March 24, 2017

Craig quit his job to give high fives around the world - now he's helping young people in Kenya slum

Elaine Hunter

Early childhood development writer

Australian Craig Lewis, who slapped hands with people in 56 countries on his global adventure, talks about the importance of early childhood development and his involvement in a project to build a youth centre and school. 

An Australian high flyer who turned his back on his corporate life to "high five" around the world is now helping to build a school and youth centre in Kenya.

Craig Lewis, known as Lewie, was so inspired by what he saw when he visited 56 countries - including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal and Cambodia - on his mission of peace and fun that he decided he had to give something back.

He's also supporting Theirworld’s #5for5 campaign, which calls on world leaders to invest in early childhood development.

As part of our campaign, we've been asking people to share pictures of themselves high-fiving a child to raise awareness of the need for five types of quality care - nutrition, health, learning, play and protection - for the under-fives.

Take Action

#5for5 - High Five for under-5s!

5for5 is about taking small actions - which together can have a big impact. And giving people a way to stand up for children who haven’t quite mastered standing yet. 5 seconds. 5 steps. 5 goals. It’s all #5for5. If you’ve got 5 seconds to spare now - share a video (or photo!) of you high-fiving an under-5 to show your support.

High-five an under-five!

The 28-year-old's travels were turned into a viral video. Craig, who now lives in New York, said: “My high-five adventure was an epic experience. Meeting people all over the world, everyone is always up for a high five.

“It’s a very positive behaviour that can connect you with people even if you haven’t met them before. 

“High fives transcend languages and ethnicities. Ever high-fived a kid in a developing country? They love it! Try it when you get a chance!”

Craig fully understands the need to focus on early childhood development.

Craig is a director of the nonprofit Wale Wale USA

He said: “Having a degree in psychology, I know the importance early childhood development has in its effects on social behaviour in later stages of development through adulthood. 

“Healthy early childhood development and learning provides a stable foundation of behaviour and norms to allow individuals to function effectively in their community. 

“A healthy community looks after its people, from newborns to the elderly, and facilitates a safe and prosperous environment for individuals to live their lives. 

“Making sure children receive the proper care and education at an early age helps them to become significant contributors to the society they live in - a benefit for all mankind.” 

Craig is currently involved in building a centre for young people in Kibera, Kenya - Africa's biggest slum area.

"I spent time at Wale Wale Youth Centre in Kenya and have since been dedicating time to fundraising activities for the centre," he said. 

"We started the nonprofit Wale Wale USA, which I’m a director of, and we financially support Wale Wale Kenya through fundraising activities."

Everyone loves high fives - they are a quick, positive way to build immediate rapport with someone even if you’ve just met them.

Craig Lewis

"We are building a Future Centre, where the current youth centre stands. The block of land that we need to buy is 250 square meters or 2690 square feet. 

"So we have a campaign called ShareASquare, where you can buy one square foot for $37 and build the centre, which will include a school. So far we have raised $15,000 through CrowdRise, on our way to the $100,000 goal."

But what inspired Craig to kick-start his adventure, give up his business life and high-five his way around the world?

“I had worked in the corporate world for a few years and got a taste of traveling through work - but it left me with a sense of wanting to see more,” he said. 

Craig at the Wale Wale youth centre in Kibera, Kenya

“With little responsibilities tying me to one location, I knew I had the chance to experience the world.

“The idea to make the high five video came about when I was in Norway, couch surfing with a Spanish guy. 

"Everyone loves high fives - they are a quick, positive way to build immediate rapport with someone even if you’ve just met them.” 

Craig now runs a digital marketing agency, has founded an e-learning accelerator programme start-up, is a non-profit director, a wingsuit pilot and a TEDx speaker.

He said: “After visiting 56 countries, I’ve managed to meet an immensely diverse amount of people from different cultures. I’ve learned that those with the least tend to be the happiest, as they appreciate the smaller things in life.

“Every major city I travelled to has major construction projects and I’ve learned that, globally, humans are moving to larger cities looking for more opportunities.

“Every city has homeless people and some cities help much more than others. The value of education is evident in developed countries while still perceived as a luxury indeveloping countries, places where it should be standard practice for all siblings of a family to get the chance to go to school, not just one." 

Craig believes the world is a nicer place than it’s often painted.

“There are dangerous cities. But, more often than not, places weren’t anywhere as dangerous as everyone tells you,” he said. 

“The people you meet traveling are kind, open to sharing stories or to helping you out. There are some incredible humans out there doing incredible things."

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