Jahkil Jackson, of Chicago, is a tireless 12-year-old who loves basketball and tap dancing.
But he’s not your average child.
When he was 8 years old, Jackson founded the nonprofit organization Project I Am in order to provide relief to the homeless.
Since then, Jackson has distributed tens of thousands of care packages, called “blessing bags,” to homeless people around the globe. The bags are stocked with toiletries, socks, granola bars, water and other items. He’s also spoken nationally about the issue of homelessness and has been recognized by some big names – including former President Barack Obama.
Recently, Jackson was featured on the new series “Marvel’s Hero Project” on Disney Plus.
Every week, the show features young people making a difference in their community. The episode “Make Way for Jahkil” highlights the work Jackson and his family do to create the care packages.
Jackson said his family’s involvement is important to him.
“It was really cool to see how involved my family was in everything I do for Project I Am in the episode,” he told WTTW News. “I’m extremely grateful to have them around and being so supportive of my dream.”
His most recent blessing bag event took place at the National Teacher’s Academy just before Christmas. There, he and other students his age stuffed bags for a young Detroit activist to share in his community. It was also an opportunity for Jackson to talk more about his organization and inspire kids his age to be active in their communities.
“It’s always surprising to me when students my age say I’m such an inspiration to them because I wouldn’t expect kids to say that,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s efforts to help those in need has been recognized by Forbes, CNN, BET, Nike and celebrities including Carmelo Anthony.
But there’s one honor that stands out.
“I felt really proud to be recognized by President Obama because it’s helped me get acknowledged to help even more people,” Jackson said.
In 2019, Jackson had a goal of filling 15,000 bags and has completely surpassed that. While he doesn’t know what’s in store for Project I Am in 2020, he says he’s excited for the opportunity his new Marvel “Hero Project” episode will bring.
Marvel has donated $10,000 to Chicago Hopes for Kids for youth activities, some of which will go to Jackson’s organization.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.