Giraffe Heroes Database

Letts , Emily

Five kids lined up against powerful representatives of the toy manufacturing industry — sounds like a Disney movie plot, doesn’t it? But Zachary Bradley, Carissa Frasca, Leslie Gregory, Emily Letts, and J. Kyle Massey can tell you it’s real. In November 1991, these 6th graders started a school project researching toy safety. What they learned inspired them to push for stronger legislation to protect children from unsafe toys.

They have been ignored by many adults as “just kids’ and have been patronized by others. One adult referred to their efforts as “their little project.’ still, they persisted and set an example for kids and adults alike.

They lobbied their legislators, wrote letters to their local papers, visited daycare centers and performed skits on toy safety. They appeared before the Virginia Assembly and the U.S. Congress as expert witnesses on toy safety and they succeeded — a bill they initiated requiring hospital emergency rooms to report any toy-related injuries became law in Virginia in July 1992.

Their next steps were getting similar legislation passed nationally, and pushing to have stronger mandatory warning labels on toys that pose a danger to small children.

Age when commended: youth (12 or less)
Year commended: 1992
Occupation: Student
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