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Read good books, do good deeds

hpa logoHave you ever read a book and thought to yourself, “Man, I wish this could be real?” Well, unfortunately, no one I know has ever gotten an owl-delivered acceptance letter to Hogwarts, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a little bit of the Wizarding World out here for us muggles. One of the major themes of the Harry Potter series is fighting for what you believe in, fighting for people who are oppressed or who have been deprived of their power to fight for themselves, and it’s that theme that the Harry Potter Alliance carries into the muggle world.

The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is a non-profit organization which uses themes from Harry Potter to inspire activism and social change in the real world. The Alliance addresses issues ranging from the environment and climate change to literacy, human rights violations to net neutrality. Their successes include the donation of over 120,000 books to various communities around the world, raising over $123,000 dollars to send life-saving supplies to Haiti, and collecting over 50,000 signatures on a petition demanding Warner Bros. prove that all Harry Potter chocolate was made without the use of child labor. With a staff comprised mostly of volunteers who take time out of their busy work, school, and life schedules to support the HPA, its accomplishments are not only incredible — they’re also inspiring.

As a kid, reading adventure stories — fantasy and otherwise — made me want to go on my own adventures. Without an outlet to channel my restless need to fight for good, to take to the streets, to take up the battle against evil, I came up with silly ideas like running away from home to live by the creek, climbing in places I shouldn’t have been climbing, and scrambling through my neighborhood via my neighbors’ backyards (some of said neighbors would have found me adorable, while some would have considered me trespassing). The HPA gave young-adult me an outlet I would have loved in my childhood — the opportunity to take my love of Harry Potter and my desire for my own adventure and my own fights and channel them into making my world a better place.

The HPA isn’t just limited to its staff, either. They have a flourishing chapters program where fans of the series of all ages can start their own chapter of the HPA, in which they participate in the main organizations campaigns, but also use the theme and the goals of the HPA to engage and help their communities. The chapters program is a fantastic way for fans of the series to develop leadership skills and lifelong friendships while changing the world.

The HPA has also started the Imagine Better project to expand on the idea of the HPA by taking it to other fandoms (such as readers of the Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars) and other communities. If you’re interested in the ideals of the HPA but Harry Potter just isn’t your thing, check out the Imagine Better project to get involved.

So next time you finish a book, whether it’s a Harry Potter novel or something new, don’t worry! The inspiration, the sense of adventure, the story doesn’t have to end there. You have the power to take that book into the real world and make it a better place.

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