THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
A SUPERHERO’S CHRISTMAS| 2017
DRAPER, UTAH — It was time for bed. I tossed my 8 year old son over my shoulder and hauled him up the stairs to the spare bedroom at his mom’s house. Throwing him onto the bed, we quickly jumped under the the covers snuggling into each other. It would be hard for him to sleep, It was the night before Christmas and Chase was so excited.
It had been another lean year bootstrapping our dream start-up and I had exhausted all of our resources on our research and serving those less fortunate. I felt guilty I couldn’t give him all the things that he deserved.
“I need to tell you something Chase.” I said.
“What Dad, what is it?”
“I don’t have any presents for you to unwrap this year,” I said.
“I know Dad, it’s ok. I don’t want any presents. All I want for Christmas is to be with you. I love you so much.” Chase said as he leaned over and gave me a huge hug.
“I have a surprise for you though,” I told him, reaching for my MacBook charging on the bed-stand.
“What is it?” Chase inquired with excitement.
I opened the internet browser and directed it to the home page of the Utah Daily Herald, a local newspaper, where a featured article had been posted to the front page just a few hours before, just in time for Christmas.
“Look, you are front page news son. I am so proud of you. Merry Christmas.”
Chase looked astonished staring at the computer screen. “I can’t believe it.” he said.
I smiled and began to read, emphasizing the title of the article in my best reporter voice...
THIRD GRADER HOPES TO HELP THE HOMELESS THROUGH KID LABS
DAILY HERALD by Karissa Neely | DECEMBER 24, 2017
It’s not every day a third-grader reaches out to a newspaper through a LinkedIn message, but that’s just how Chase Hansen, 8-year-old Kid Labs founder, rolls.
From his first, “Hi there. Nice to meet you, I’m Chase,” LinkedIn message, it’s easy to see Chase is the impetus behind the vision of Kid Labs — to empower kids to reach out to their community. Chase, a third-grader at Draper Elementary, partners with his father, John Hansen.
“I’m the talker, he’s the ‘I do stuff,’” Chase said, joking about his dad.
John readily agrees.
“Chase would come up with the ideas, and my job is to make it happen. I put the pieces together to make it work,” John said.
They both are speaking of a project that started years ago during Chase’s toddler years. When Chase was 4, John thought it would be great to make a superhero lab. They started out in a garage, but their idea bloomed, so they renovated an industrial warehouse in Salt Lake City, and christened it Kid Labs in 2013.
In that location, kids and families came together to create, connect and contribute to their community. The space focused on science, technology, engineering and arts exploration. The walls were not one color, but many — a fantastic splash of color and movement created by area graffiti artists.
John calls that location a “living social experiment,” all with the focus on fulfilling kids’ dreams of being true superheroes inspired by, but not necessarily exactly like the ones they see in the movies — more geared towards empowering them to be effective heroes in society. The lab offered yoga, robotics, art and GoPro classes, in addition to holding family dance parties and kid-and-dad sleepovers.
Unfortunately, Kid Labs had to close less than a year after it opened. John Hansen said a volunteer ran off with the organization’s money, resulting in the loss of Kid Labs’ location. This broke Chase’s heart.
Since then, John and Chase have been working in “stealth mode” to resurrect the vision behind Kid Labs. A physical location will be part of that vision, but John Hansen also has more in the works, as well.
Through some of his own struggles in recent years, John Hansen wants to bring empathetic and empowering programs to homeless and at-risk youth. Chase shares that same hope. Honestly, he has probably seen and interacted with more at-risk and homeless children than most 8-year-olds.
“It’s just sitting down and hearing someone’s story, if you’re not homeless. But hearing their story as homeless,” Chase said.
Chase and his father are working on securing a Kid Labs location in Midvale and targeting these communities there. To do this, John Hansen has been partnering with local nonprofit organizations, and gaining mentorship from their leaders.
Janae Moss is the chair-elect for the United Way of Utah County Board of Directors and founder of the Parent Advocacy Council. She saw the original Kid Labs and its benefit to the community, how it brought together different people through play. Because of the powerful “dad voice” Hansen was for the area, he has been a part of her council for a few years. Moss hopes Hansen’s vision of child-focused innovation education will succeed.
The Hansens are still looking for more partnerships, especially with local technology businesses to “fund unique social experiments and Kid Lab projects,” Hansen said.
By reaching the kids where they are, Hansen hopes to help businesses tap into a future workforce, while raising these children from the poverty levels they were born into. He sees Kid Labs as a unique co-working space that allows local companies hands-on opportunities for philanthropy while teaching children how to be entrepreneurs, to code, and the importance of health and well-being.
It’s a big vision, and one he can’t accomplish without business partnerships.
Of course, Chase, keeps things rooted in reality.
“We’ll need a room for robotics and games, and a hero room. And a big room with room for an epic Nerf battle. I love Nerf wars,” he said.
DAILY HERALD Link
“Do you like it?” I inquired.
“I love it. It is amazing.” Chase smiled.
“There is something else.” I said. “I wrote something for you, it took me almost a year. It’s your ORIGIN STORY…every hero has one. It is a work in progress, but I started it. I want to read it to you.”
Chase snuggled-in closer as the page loaded.
“KID LABS: A Social Impact Company founded in 2013 by 4 year old businessman and philanthropist Chase Hansen and his dad, with a mission to be a global FORCE for good.” I read aloud.
“Cool… Dad, what’s a Social Impact Company?” Chase inquired.
“It is a company with a mission. A hero-company. Kind of like a not-for-profit, led by someone who wants to do good, make an impact on the world, leave it better.” I said. “ Sometimes those leaders have a secret identity, kind of like you,” pointing to the picture.
I smiled clicking the link and began reading…
THE ORIGIN STORY by John Hansen | DECEMBER 24, 2017
In Sept 2013, my little boy Chase and I attended one of the greatest gatherings of heroes in the world, the FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention, the very first one. It was epic.
Chase was four at the time and like little boys often do, he super hero-ed everything, tapping into his inner warrior with his fierce imagination wherever we went. He was always in “Hero Mode” fighting imaginary bad guys, armed with imaginary gadgets and imaginary weapons being a Force For Good in his world of superhero.
We had spent nearly two years straight together after the sale of a company that I owned. Let’s just say 2009 was a rough time on many small business and real-estate owners. When the global economy fell apart, so did I. Broken and battered from my unraveling and the implosion of my marriage, I decided to take a much needed break from the world, to stay at home and be with my son.
Those two years as a stay-at-home dad were the most magical and transformative years of my life, just the medicine that I needed. Chase and I would adventure everywhere together, exploring and playing. He was the sweetest boy, a constant source of unconditional love and affection, lifting me up from the dark place where I had fallen, anchoring me back into a purpose. He helped me see the world through his eyes, and I began seeing things differently, discovering things alongside him as we would wander. I loved the expressions on his tiny face when he would see new things for the first time.
Every night we spent together we would cuddle up on the couch or build a fort and watch something that he had curated, almost as if he was trying to mentor me with positive lessons through Pixar and Disney, reminding me who I was through heroic stories. I started to feel again.
We soon worked our way up from animation to Power Rangers and then quickly graduated to the “big boy” hero stuff — his favorite movie being Real Steel. We must have watched it a hundred times.
Jayden the Red Power Ranger, Atom the boxing robot, Luke Skywalker, Iron Man, Optimus Prime, Spiderman, Batman, and Captain America soon becoming regulars on his rotation of alter egos to try on.
As a little Jedi Master, he would wield his lightsaber with expertise, using the front room to enact what he saw on our tv, drawing me into fierce battles where we would fight together against foes that were invisible to me. He was the type of little kid who would explore the world in a Spiderman outfit or put it on just to fall asleep, ready to spring into action if needed. “Hero Mode” became the most entertaining way to adventure, so I encouraged it.
FanX fueled by the 40,000 diehard fans served as a catalyst for an idea. We needed our own superhero lair. We both wanted to continue our training together and reasoned if we had a base we could recruit a League of extraordinary people and develop a heroic culture like Avengers or X-Men. We wanted to put our creative ideas into play to serve others and elevate humanity.
After months of searching, we found an abandoned industrial pipe welding shop that had been decimated by a previous tenant. It was in bad shape, but I saw what it could become. I struck a deal with the owners on a handshake and mobilized the Boy Scouts and a few hired guns to start cleaning up the place. Progress was slow, but in time we recruited some amazing volunteers and a few open-minded “hero companies” that rallied behind our vision.
After three months of hard work, just like Arrow and Batman, we had a lair — our dream office. A maker space where my little boy and I could be together to play, create, and imagine.
We called it Kid Labs.
Since Chase was two, I have been following his lead as he drives ideas and experiences which I make happen, something that I love doing. Following the leader has changed my life, teaching me more than I’d ever imagined. With a lair, we began to think in superhero, taking our game to a whole other level.
Most of our heroic adventures, experiments and experiences were kept top secret. I like to tell Chase that Batman doesn’t have a PR team, he operates covertly, in Hero Mode and doesn’t seek out recognition.
In total, we ran 90+ social experiments from our beta lab. We met so many amazing people from all walks of life, even collaborating on a few special projects with champions from the non-profit and business sectors.
I often get asked, “What happened to Kid Labs?”
Most of the time I make up an answer that sounds good, but keep the real answer to myself. In short a volunteer took off with the last of our funds and our working capital went to zero. Short on rent we scrambled to rally help, but without an nonprofit tax ID number, the amazing organizations and foundations we approached about our work, turned us down. Without a “License to Hero,” we were on our own.
Surrendering to the inevitable, I sat Chase down to give him the bad news: we were shutting down his hero facility that we had built together. To help my little son process the flood of emotions, I asked him to do an interview.
We had spent months rebuilding something completely destroyed in a labor of love, turning a dirty and broken building into an amazing laboratory for our hero work. We had accomplished so much and left the neighborhood improved, with the proof of concept and the experience we needed to build a “bigger and better Kid Labs.”
Since Kid Labs, we having been figuring out the next phase through intensive research and personal development (r&pd), creating the relationships and strategic partnerships and the infrastructure we will need to create our dream…we dream big.
CHASEING SUPERHERO is the story about a mission driven little boy from Utah, who seeks to create meaningful change in the world through his social impact work, not unlike any of the heroic characters we celebrate in our greatest stories.
Chase is a leader that has heart.
Help me to help him reboot Kid Labs and to tell his story.
From what I see on the news, the world could use a hero… besides, the greatest stories are the ones that you can be a part of.
Chief Dad Officer — Kid Labs
… That’s the end…the end of the beginning.” I said, laying the MacBook back onto the nightstand.
“You have a powerful story Chase. People want to be part of a story, especially stories about heroes. You are a hero. The world needs heroes now more than ever.”
“Are you committed to the plan?” I asked.
“YES!” Chase quickly fired back. “WEEEEEEEEEE are committed… Dad!”
“Yes we are!” I smiled. He always had a way of reminding me that we were a team, a dynamic duo working together to serve.
“I love you.” I said pulling him close.
“I love you too.” said Chase. “Best Christmas present ever!”
“We will see… Merry Christmas.” I said, and reached over and turned off the light.
WHAT THIS 9-YEAR-OLD CEO CAN TEACH US ABOUT LIVING WITH CHRISTLIKE LOVE: “JESUS IS THE GREATEST SUPERHERO OF ALL”
by LDS Living Staff | OCTOBER 4, 2018
Chase Hansen is a CEO for a Social Impact Company, has met with church and government authorities, and organizes service events to lift and empower those in his community. And he’s 9 years old.
Because of his love of superheroes, Chase and his father, John, found ways to be real-life superheroes in their community, founding Kid Labs to empower children and others to build their communities.
Just last month, Chase helped feed over 150 people in a family shelter a delicious pancake breakfast to provide a little light and hope.
Recently, Chase shared an article explaining why he created Kid Labs and how we can all better follow our Savior to love one another:
“One day, my dad and I were walking around in the Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City and I saw some people sitting on the sidewalk who looked like they were struggling. I asked my dad who they were and he told me they were homeless people. I told him, ‘Dad, we have to find a way to help them.’ So for the last couple of years we have been working on finding ways we can help homeless people in our community.
“One of the ideas we have had we call Project Empathy. The idea behind Project Empathy is pretty simple. It is to just have members of the community get together with homeless people and sit down with them over a meal to just talk. It’s a chance for a homeless person to talk to another person and tell their life story. It’s a chance to connect with others in our community who are struggling and help them feel cared for and heard. At the end of the meal, the homeless person gains trust in the other person and it helps them feel like they can move forward.
“Since we have had this idea, my Dad and I have met and talked to about 130 homeless people in Salt Lake. . . . We started to see them as people just like us who had some hard things happen to them and just needed some kindness and understanding. . . . It makes me feel happy to serve people and connect with others, and I know that’s what Jesus wants me to do.
“We were inspired by superheroes to start Kid Labs, and Jesus is the greatest superhero of all. He shows us better than any other hero what it means to serve and love others.
“Jesus taught, ‘If ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ In other words, what we have done unto others, we have done unto Him, because Jesus loves everyone equally. . . .
“I believe in the Savior Jesus Christ and I know He wants all of us to have Christlike love for one another and help everybody.”