Credit: The Vanity Project

Vampire Diaries star Ian Somerhalder is an example of an actor who uses the power celebrity gives him to change the lives of people (and animals) for the better. He started the IS Foundation with the aim “to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures,” and he couldn’t be prouder of the many programs and people it has inspired. Check out the Ian-featured video showing the foundation’s youth-empowerment program in action, as well as his awesome response to it!

“This video is blowing my mind! I’ve never seen anything like it — take 5 mins of your day pls — for me … I’m so proud of this!” Ian tweeted yesterday, along with a link to the Vimeo vid showcasing U Factor, a youth-geared program giving kids and teenagers the support and resources they need to start solving the worlds problems now.

In the vid, we see Ian and other IS Foundation organizers working with an inspiring group of kids hoping to make a difference — through passion projects like starting an eco-friendly accessories business that gives a percentage of its proceeds to local and global charities, or by coming up with ideas about how to treat cancer while still in high school. The message U Factor is spreading: You don’t have to wait until you grow up to make a difference; You can start now.

“The best idea is to sit and look at exactly what it is you want to do, and then we find the people with the skill sets to do exactly those things,” Ian tells a young girl called Chrissy in the vid. Chrissy contracted Staph Infection from a gym mat that left her wheelchair-bound, and she wants to spread awareness of this issue. “And then, from that, then all the pieces will start to come together.” We love to see Ian’s optimism in action, and can’t wait to see what these kids come up with!

The Vampire Diaries airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.