GREAT FALLS – “I always tell them, ‘I’m still a kid, I still play video games, I play sports I go out and have fun, I’m not a foundation robot,’” said Swensson.
13-year-old Luc Swensson may be young, but if there’s one big thing he’s achieved in life so far, it’s helping others.
Luc’s passion to lift people up ignited after his grandfather passed away. The two had shared of a love for racing when he was younger.
“Having cancer hit so close to home for my family, losing my grandfather to cancer, that was a big thing of what really stood out to me. I said, ‘Hey, this needs to happen,’” he said.
Luc started the ‘I Love This Life’ Foundation to raise funds for cancer patients and their families and over two years has expanded to cover a number of issues facing youth.
The foundation’s name was inspired by a song from the duo LOCASH. Luc said the music helped him through darker times when he was younger.
“I think it’s through all the stuff that has happened with my family through divorce and the loss of my grandfather, that’s really what kind of pushed me through those hard times, was those four words, so that’s really where those four words came into play for the foundation,” he said.
He’s even introduced the band on stage and sees them several times a year.
Luc’s message of hope continues to inspire kids. Over the past two years, Luc‘s traveled around the country hosting school rallies and starting projects – all in an effort to encourage kids to speak up about their problems and find a better way.
“The model that we use is to give every child the hope to dream big,” he said.
He hopes his message can shield some kids from the pain of life lessons he’s had to learn the hard way.
“Through my foundation, I don’t want kids to go through the same thing that I had to, and suffer like I did,” he said.
A rising issue the foundation is focusing on now is teen suicide. Luc and his father created interactive journals after a girl named Sarah tried to take her life.
“He said, ‘Well, it’s a girl that attempted suicide in Boise,’ and I said, ‘When does she get out of the hospital?’, and he said, ‘Well she gets out Friday,’ and I said, ‘We need to be there…to see her get out of the hospital.”
And just like his foundation, Luc said the journals were born out of a desire to help others while addressing issues like teen suicide.
“On the car drive home, we ended up creating the journal, and it was, ‘How do we get to kids like Sarah before something like that happens?’” he said.
The foundation keeps in contact with Sarah’s family to this day, checking in with her and keeping up with her journal entries.
“It makes me feel good inside knowing that we’re able to be there and help along the way as she gets better and better,” he said.
While the 13-year-old tackles heavy topics like cancer, teen suicide and bullying, he’s able to relate to his younger audience *because* of his age.
“I always get asked by the teachers, ‘How do you keep them so engaged?’ I’m a kid, so I really know that age range and that’s what really keeps them focused,” he said.
Luc said he plans to keep the foundation going, building it into a brighter future where all kids imagine, believe and achieve.
“What we really want kids to take away from this is that there’s people that can help and care about problems that they have,” he said.
Luc will present at Lincoln Elementary School on Friday, Feb. 1st at 2:15 p.m. Along with his ‘I Love This Life’ message, Luc said he’ll also focus on grit and perseverance. The public is invited to attend.
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Reporting by Keeley Van Middendorp for MTN News