Yearlong Family Road Trip Uncovers the Generosity of Kids

Feb 18, 2015

The Webb family of Pasadena, Calif., is spending a year traveling to all 50 states in a trailer, speaking to young people who are tackling problems in their communities. During this project, One Year Road Trip: Generation of Generosity, the family is creating a documentary film to highlight these young innovators. We asked Matt and Eva Webb why they took their kids – Evie, Solveig and Jack, ages 8, 9 and 11, respectively – on the road. Here’s what they told us.

webbs_1_key_image_and_for_blog.jpgThe Webb family – parents Matt and Eva and kids, from left, Jack, Solveig and Evie – stop in Philadelphia during their yearlong road trip. (Webb family photo)

The One Year Road Trip: Generation of Generosity project is a story of beauty from ashes. For us, 2010 was a challenging year. We struggled to keep a healthy work/life balance.

To rebuild, we spent most of 2011 in marriage counseling and by November were back on our feet. At the end of our last session our facilitator asked, “What is one dream you have for your family?” Finally able to dream again, Matt replied, “I’d like to travel the U.S. for a year and visit all 50 states as a family,” to which Eva responded, “What?!”

As kids we were transformed by experiences in Haiti and Mexico serving among the poor with our families, and we wanted to create a transformative experience for our three young children, too. Since Matt is a filmmaker we thought, “Let’s make a documentary about people who are doing lasting, transformational change,” and then, “What if we found kids making change?”

We researched and found kids whose stories had to be given a wider audience. We felt that if we didn’t try, we’d be going against our conscience as a family. So in June 2012 Matt resigned from his full-time job in graduate school administration to focus the next two years on building the One Year Road Trip.

webbs_2_for_blog.jpgThe Webb family interviews Nicholas Lowinger from Gotta Have Sole. (Webb family photo)

It wasn’t hard to get the kids excited about the project. We left our home in September, and five months later – though we miss our community dearly – we’re making new friends around America.

Our support comes in a variety of ways. Our producing team worked tirelessly for a year to prepare us to get on the road. We’re also partnering with the nonprofit arts organization Fractured Atlas, through which we have raised more than $80,000 of our $135,000 budget through tax-deductible donations.

Another foundation, We Encourage, has also supported our project financially and donated more than $10,000 over the past year. While on the road we’re continuing to raise funds, and need only $45,000 to meet our production goal.

On the road many individuals and families have provided meals, a place to park our trailer overnight, access to museums and events that have enriched our experience, and we have made contact with several young change-makers through people we’ve met along the way.

If you doubt that kids can change the world, check out some of the young people we’ve interviewed:

  • Colorado: Olivea Borden loves to sew and at 12 years old started her business, Oli-Bo-Bolly, selling handmade textiles from recycled materials. When you purchase one of her handmade dolls a second doll is made by women in Nicaragua whom Olivea trained and pays a fair wage, and the doll is given to a child in the community.
  • Rhode Island: After visiting a homeless shelter and seeing that siblings sometimes share shoes to go to school, Nicholas Lowinger started his nonprofit, Gotta Have Sole. He partners with shoe companies and homeless shelters to provide brand new shoes for children to fit their feet and their specific footwear needs (school, athletics, work, etc.).
  • Florida: Joshua Williams was turning 5 when he saw a man who was hungry. Josh gave him the $20 he received for his birthday and vowed to help others. Ten years later Joshua’s Heart Foundation provides almost 1 million pounds of food to people in South Florida annually through his team of more than 2,500 volunteers.

These are just three of the dozens of kids we are meeting on the road, all of them using their passions to address huge issues – hunger, homelessness, poverty, bullying and hate, nutrition, health and medicine – creatively and effectively. 

Our goal of helping to drive a “Generation of Generosity” begins with sharing the stories of this already growing community of young change-makers in order to inspire others to go out and make the world better.

To track the Webb family’s progress, follow @OneYearRoadTrip on Twitter. For more information, visit the One Year Road Trip website.