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Cavanaugh Bell of Cool & Dope: “I was bullied and I didn’t want kids to feel the way I felt”

I was bullied and I didn’t want kids to feel the way I felt. I thought that the bullying was my fault and it was important for me to spread awareness and to show other kids that they have a voice and they matter and that they can have an impact no matter their age. My […]

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I was bullied and I didn’t want kids to feel the way I felt. I thought that the bullying was my fault and it was important for me to spread awareness and to show other kids that they have a voice and they matter and that they can have an impact no matter their age.

My organization is called Cool & Dope and we are on a mission to end all bullying worldwide by 2030, when I turn 18. I think we can do that by giving kids leadership opportunities so they can feel powerful to speak up and to speak out when they see bullying happening.


As part of our series about young people who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cavanaugh Bell of Cool & Dope.

Cavanaugh Bell is the 8-year-old Chief Positivity Creator of the bullying prevention nonprofit, Cool & Dope. With a mission to end all bullying worldwide by 2030, Cool & Dope creates family volunteer and activism opportunities to empower youth to speak up and to speak out.

For the pandemic, Cavanaugh used his life savings to make care packs for senior citizens and was able to quickly mobilize global donations to create the Love is Greater Than COVID-19 Community Pantry that has served 15,000+ people since April 2020, including sending 32k dollars of critical COVID supplies and food to the poorest community in the Nation, the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Cavanaugh has been awarded a Congressional Certificate of Recognition by House of Representative David Trone, selected as a Finalist for the Congressional Medal of Honor, been named a 2020 CNN Young Wonder and has had his work acknowledged by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, President Biden (during the inauguration celebration), President Trump, and Vice President Kamala Harris.

His work also caught the attention of P&G heritage brand Ivory and they have since partnered with Cavanaugh to provide financial assistance to Cool & Dope to distribute Ivory Care Packs to the elderly who deserve a touch of love and kindness.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us about how you grew up?

I live with my mom in Gaithersburg, MD and I visit my dad on the weekends. I like to play and watch sports when I’m not helping my community.

Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

When I was 5 years old I was being bullied and I felt a darkness within me and I knew I didn’t want other kids to feel the way that I felt. There wasn’t a particular organization but there was a book called Those Shoes which really made me want to help others so that other kids who were being bullied wouldn’t feel how I felt. Those Shoes is about a boy who donates his favorite pairs of shoes to another kid who didn’t have any and that book made me think about how I could help other people.

You are currently leading an organization that is helping to make a positive social impact. Can you tell us a little about what you and your organization are trying to create in our world today?

My organization is called Cool & Dope and we are on a mission to end all bullying worldwide by 2030, when I turn 18. I think we can do that by giving kids leadership opportunities so they can feel powerful to speak up and to speak out when they see bullying happening.

Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?

I was bullied and I didn’t want kids to feel the way I felt. I thought that the bullying was my fault and it was important for me to spread awareness and to show other kids that they have a voice and they matter and that they can have an impact no matter their age.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

I got to speak with the Vice President Kamala Harris which was really cool for me and it was one of the first times I realized how many people were inspired by my story.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

My grandma she always comes to help me and she was the reason why I created the Love is Greater Than COVID-19 community pantry that has gone on to help 14,000 people.

How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Making a Difference to me means giving back to others because it makes them feel good and it makes you feel good inside too.

This year I was able to make a big difference by spreading gentle acts of kindness to seniors through my partnership with Ivory. To help seniors across America feel less lonely, it became Cool & Dope’s mission to provide local seniors with hot meals and care packages. With help and financial assistance from Ivory I have been able to share Ivory Gentle Care Packs that include an assortment of items such as Ivory Gentle Moisturizing Body Wash and Gentle Deodorant, designed to be gentle on skin, socks and a cozy blanket to help them stay warm, goodies for stay at home fun and a note from me!

Many young people would not know what steps to take to start to create the change they want to see. But you did. What are some of the steps you took to get your project started? Can you share the top 5 things you need to know to become a changemaker? Please tell us a story or example for each.

Your Motivation — you should know why you want to help

Your Action — what action you want to take (it can be big or small)

Your Giving — how you want to give and who you want to help

Your Involvement Makers — who do you want to help you?

Your Change — what is your long term vision or goal? How do you want it to impact the world?

What are the values that drive your work?

I just want to spread positivity everywhere I go.

Many people struggle to find what their purpose is and how to stay true to what they believe in. What are some tools or daily practices that have helped you to stay grounded and centred in who you are, your purpose, and focused on achieving your vision?

I always say my goals out loud and share them with other people. I believe in manifestation and that is a word my mom taught me when I was little. I also do a vision board every year and I look at it once a month to remind myself of the things I want to do and why I want to do them.

In my work, I aim to challenge us all right now to take back our human story and co-create a vision for a world that works for all. I believe youth should have agency over their own future. Can you please share your vision for a world you want to see? I’d love to have you describe what it looks like and feels like. As you know, the more we can imagine it, the better we can manifest it!

I want a world where kids are just as powerful as adults and where kids know that they have a voice and they can take action. A world where we can be who we are and not worry about people making fun of us or calling us weird. And a world where people really listen to each other.

We are powerful co-creators and our minds and intentions create our reality. If you had limitless resources at your disposal, what specific steps would take to bring your vision to fruition?

I would give every child 1,000 dollars to start a community project that was important to them. I really believe that if kids can feel more powerful than we can change the world.

I see a world driven by the power of love, not fear. Where human beings treat each other with humanity. Where compassion, kindness and generosity of spirit are characteristics we teach in schools and strive to embody in all we do. What changes would you like to see in the educational system? Can you explain or give an example?

I know I had a lot of teachers tell me that I couldn’t do certain things because I was too little. Like when I was 6, I gave a 12 minute Ted Talk that I memorized and people said I couldn’t do it. I would want the school system to believe in kids and give them more opportunities to be leaders without telling them that they were too young.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

This world is ours too and if we wait until we’re adults to try to change it, it may be too late.

Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Justin Bieber — I just think he is the coolest person ever.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

They can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook (@cooldopeliving for all of those platforms) and check out my YouTube (Cavanaugh’s Quest)

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!


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