The New Yorker launched the 20 Under 40. The New York Jewish Week published the 36 under 36. But for some, those age requirements are simply far too old. eJewish Philanthropy recently ran a story announcing a contest that skews dramatically younger: The Jewish Associated League of Organizations with Programs for Youth (JALOPY)’s 10 under 10, which celebrates the best and brightest of the pre-tween set. According to the story:

“Executive Director Vilda-Chaya Tipshut [said], “We want to encourage independent-minded forward-thinking trail-blazing path-breaking paradigm-shifting game-changing maverick out-of-the box creative entrepreneurial innovative young bridge-builders who are revitalizing, empowering, and fostering one another.” “For instance…we’ve heard about a five-year-old who has come up with a model for kindergarten that is more responsive to its target demographic, with extra play time and more snacks. We need to incentivize that kind of innovation community-wide.”

It turns out (without very much digging) that both JALOPY and their 10 under 10 contest are spoofs – and pretty funny ones at that. Still, the notion of growing youth leadership they present is surprisingly right on. Across the country, more and more kids are choosing to engage in service at a younger age. They are volunteering, with their families and on their own, to make a real difference in their communities long before they get to high school, and even before their bnai mitzvah. Encouraging service at a young age – even something as simple as organizing a toy drive at school, walking dogs at a local animal hospital, or cleaning up a nearby park – helps build a strong foundation for a lifetime of service and civic engagement.

Perhaps a real 10 under 10 contest isn’t all that far off after all?

To find more volunteer opportunities for kids, click here.