Addy, the Gorilla Hero Girl
Addy Barrett is a 13 years old girl gorilla enthusiast from Germantown, Maryland.
She organizes and runs different activities like lemonade stands, bake sales as a way to raise more awareness and donation. She hopes to inspire others to engage for the gorillas and their habitat. Gorilla Hero is the name of her initiative.
You can read more and follow her here:
- Addy, can you tell us how a girl of your age got into gorillas and their protection?
It all started when I read a book how gorillas were critically endangered. I just felt so determined to take action. I also used social media to my advantage to get the word around and to create my platform. Social media also allowed me to communicate with other kid activists and organizations such as the Dian Fossey Fund, The Ellen Fund and Berggorilla. Additionally, I wouldn’t have come this far without the support of my friends and family who always reshared, donated, and so much more.
- What are the most acute risks for gorillas and their environment?
Sadly, humans are the biggest threat to gorillas and their population. Specifically, threats include deforestation, poaching, and coltan mining.
- What are specific actions and initiatives that you have accomplished?
I have accomplished various fundraisers such as the annual Gorilla Gala, the Gorilla Toys fundraiser, and lemonade stands and bake sales. My aim has always been to spread the word and to get other kids and their families interested in conservation. In total I have raised over $ 13,000 for various conservation groups.
- Where do you send the money, any specific projects?
Our funds go to The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, and The Ellen Fund. The Fossey Fund works to track and protect mountain gorillas every single day. The Ellen Fund is working to build a permanent home for The Fossey Fund in Rwanda.
- What kind of obstacles do you face being a young activist for such an exotic issue?
I think being a young activist has both helped, and hurt me. For example, I think people were more interested in my cause because it was child-run, but at the same time some people don’t take it as seriously because I am only a kid. And because I’m a kid, I have needed the help of my parents for social media.
- What is your biggest success so far?
In my opinion my biggest accomplishment is the Gorilla Gala(s). They have brought in a lot of money for the cause, and also taught so many people a lot about the endangered species. And to me, it has been the most fun, and exciting of my fundraisers.
- Were you able to inspire your classmates, friends and family?
I am so blessed to have such a supportive group of people surrounding me. They have helped me with every one of my events and activities. I also got the chance to work with my elementary school’s Green Team back in 2019 on an educational project all about gorillas. We teamed up to educate our school about the dangers gorillas are facing. We also ran a successful cell phone recycling campaign that informed people about the harm of coltan mining to gorillas (an ore found in electronics) and collected over 50 phones that were recycled.
- How did the current Corona pandemic affect your activities?
Were you able to improvise to keep up the good work?
So many of my projects take place online, but, we were planning the 2020 Gorilla Gala when everything went into lockdown. This is the event where many of our friends and family would come together and learn about gorillas. Because of the pandemic, that was unable to happen as it normally would. Instead, we did a virtual event. The 2020 Gorilla Gala had three different parts: Pre-recorded videos, Online Auction, and a Live Stream Celebration. The pre-recorded videos had two parts as well: A fun challenge video with clips of our supporters doing various gorilla themed games, and then the more heartfelt compilation video where people from all around the world shared their favorite things about gorillas, how we can help, etc. The online auction included donated items from The Ellen Fund, Gorilla Glue, Katherine Applegate (author of The One and Only Ivan), and beautiful art pieces from several generous Gorilla Heroes. Finally, the live stream included a raffle, and a fun trivia game. In the end, it was not what we had planned, but it was such a fun time, and we got to include people from all over who wouldn't have been able to come to the in person Gala.
- Who are your heroes? Who inspires you?
I am always inspired by the amazing work of Jane Goodall, and of course, Dian Fossey. They both have done so much for the primate community, and it is such an inspiration.
- Any future plans?
I would love to continue the Gorilla Gala tradition, and continue to educate myself and others. I am also interested in expanding my conservation efforts to include climate change education.
Interview by Ravid Aloni, Berggorilla & Regenwald Direkthilfe