Most would consider their life a success if their resume was full of experiences like co-founding a homeless outreach called Project Empathy, speaking at a TEDx event, being a guest on Good Morning America, presenting a state initiative to Utah state leaders, meeting with leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and being the Chief Kid Officer at Kid Labs. That resume would be quite impressive for most adults. But, if you are 11-year old Chase Hansen , those things (and much, much more) were accomplished before he even started sixth grade!
Oh, and this weekend, Chase participated in a two-day High-Level Youth Summit which was sponsored by the United Nations. No biggie. The topic of discussion at this international platform? How to get the youth to develop and engage in participatory development of the world. "He is one of the youngest to speak from such experience," said Chase's dad, John. "He doesn't know the significance of the moment, but it is cool for me to watch him."
We had the opportunity to profile Chase in Nugent Magazine Fall 2019 and highlight the work that he and John have done to connect and serve the homeless and vulnerable population in Utah. We decided to catch up with Chase and see what else he has been up to in the last year...and we were amazed at his accompishments.
Chase, who started his humanitarian work when he was just four years old, has a global message, and he is not shy to share it with the world. “I am interested in doing something about loneliness and despair,” he said. His mission is to have impactful person-to-person positive human contact with vulnerable people in Utah. Chase has developed a “prescription for human connection".”There are three simple ways to serve the homeless or those who struggle: listen with empathy, connect with dignity, serve with authenticity,” he stated.
He is working on how to make his vision a reality, and figuring out ways to teach and train others to grow his work globally so that it can become a repeatable model. Chase plans to grow this model so that it can be taught in schools, corporate training, colleges via data scientists, mental health, civic planning and psychology schools. And has plans to develop technology to facilitate human connections.
Has COVID-19 slowed Chase down? “Just a bit,” he said. “So we are working on developing news ways and new technology to connect with others." And because of COVID, some of the connections with others have had to be through zoom calls.
“That human connection is even more relevant (with COVID) and Chase has spoken with state officials about health issues that come with loneliness,” said John. “We are partnering with different nonprofits and businesses to develop a program to train those who want to help and serve those that are in despair...whether it is a church group or a school, or a corporate team or civic group. “We want to make it easy so that if someone has a free hour or two they will be able to really help somebody through a simple conversation,” said John.
“That human connection starts with a conversation that has empathy, dignity and authenticity,” said Chase. Chase and John regularly go out and connect with the homeless and the vulnerable and listen to their stories. “I start off by asking them simple questions like: What do you dream about? What is your favorite superhero? What is your favorite animal? Or, What sports do you like? You can connect with a person, and have a conversion when you ask those kinds of questions to begin a conversation,” said Chase.
Chase was able to talk about his mission and prescription for human connection on the TEDx talk he gave in Ogden this month. “It was a great learning experience and it was a great way to spread my message,” said Chase, who wrote his own keynote address. ‘I guess the TEDx committee saw me on Good Morning America (which aired in January 2020) in New York and the TEDx selection committee asked me to talk about what I had been up to since being on GMA,” he said.
Besides working on Project Empathy, this middle schooler at Draper Park Middle School, will continue to collect books to support crisis nurseries and vulnerable kids, collaborate with city officials on a downtown empathy deployment, work a poverty projects, and collaborate with agencies including the Utah Resiliency Project, the Utah Coalition for Protection of Childhood, Life Start Village, Rescue Mission, First Step House, The Road Home, Utah Women in Sales and more.
I am not sure how long Chase’s resume will be by the time he graduates from middle school, but I am guessing he will be adding a few more pages to it. We will continue to check in with Chase and John and share more of their Good News and humanitarian work.
Thanks, Chase for being a Hometown Hero. Do you want to help Chase and Empathy Project? Chase needs more “Listeners” to deploy out on human connection assignments (via Zoom). Connect with Chase and John to volunteer or make a donation through the information below.
Send donations through Venmo to "Kid_Labs"
Project Empathy’s Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProjectEmpathyL3C
Or Email Chase at: email@example.com