Young Claremont locals, Jenny Kenyon-Wimbush (5) and Matthew Kenyon-Wimbush (12), are not like most children their age. The brother and sister both strive to make a difference in the world through initiatives to help the environment and others.
Jenny, for one, has a passion for animals and wants to help protect them and their natural environment. She spends her free time fighting for the rights of animals and cleaning up our beaches. Her desire to change the world was inspired by her older brother Matthew, who started collecting clothes and toys for charity at a young age.
She first saw how plastic affected penguins in the Happy Feet movie and heard about Bob the turtle at Two Oceans Aquarium, who had become ill from eating plastic. From then she felt a responsibility to combat the negative affects of plastic and took action.
“These stories inspired her to do something to stop plastic getting into the ocean. We came across how the Owl Rescue Centre in Hartebeespoort that was upcycling plastic into nesting boxes, so Jenny asked if we could collect plastic for them,” says Kath Kenyon-Wimbush, Jenny’s mom.
In May 2018, Jenny started a campaign to collect plastic with the aim of recycling 105 metres cubed by Christmas. Her project is still going strong and little Jenny shows no signs of wavering in her dedication to helping the owls, turtles and penguins, even encouraging other children to bring plastic to her for recycling.
The Owl Rescue Centre, to which Jenny brings plastic for recycling, regularly transports the plastic collected to its Hartebeespoort premises in Gauteng, to bring owls their new nests.
Around the same time that Jenny’s campaign began, her brother Matthew, who originally inspired her to become a changemaker, had helped his boy scouts troop put together more than 49 Christmas parcels to the Little Brinks NPO, an organisation that sets up emergency placements for abused and abandoned children.
Jenny’s giving efforts don’t stop at animals; she also recently dedicated her summer holidays to personally baking cookies for her favourite neighbourhood policemen, and hopes to one day become a police officer as well.
“Jenny adores two of our local police officers, so her current career plan is to become a police officer herself,” says Kath.
Other plans for her holidays include a beach clean up, where she hopes to collect more recyclables for the Owl Rescue Centre and protect more ocean animals from the dangers of plastic.
“I learn from both my children all the time. They have reminded me how a tiny act of kindness will spread and grow, how children have the most amazing curiosity and observation skills about the world around them. They just need someone to listen and answer their questions. They also inspire a sense of wonder at the simple things in life,” says Kath.
The story of Jenny and Matthew Kenyon is an inspirational one for anyone who wants to create a better world. The two show how siblings can uplift each other in so many ways and change the world together, one act of kindness at a time.
“Listen to our children and encourage them to find small things they can do that make a difference. This can be as simple as smiling at staff in the shops or putting litter into bins and not dropping it. Do small things. They make a big difference,” says Kath.