June 10, 2015 14:42 Age: 3 yrs

Developing Leaders: Amistad Academy Middle Students Speak Out Against Violence in Our Community

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Recently, the Amistad Academy Middle “Team & Family” was shaken by the death of a New Haven teenager named Jericho Scott. In response to this tragedy, a group of students rallied together to raise money for the Scott family, advocate for non-violence and serve as change agents in our community. This group of student leaders organized a school-wide fundraiser and awareness campaign. Students purchased red ribbons and wore them all week. Students also dressed in all black to speak out against the disappearance of youth due to violence. The student leaders raised $500 for the Scott family, and held a powerful dialogue about how we can all be a force for positive change in our community.

Eighth-grader Pamela is one of these student leaders. Here, she shares her story and inspiration for organizing this campaign:

Why did you decide to put together a school-wide fundraiser and awareness campaign?
Growing up in New Haven, I have seen a lot of people in need. When Jericho passed away, his family was in need of money to cover funeral costs. Although I’m too young to have enough money for the Scott family on my own, I know that I’m old enough to help make a change in the community. It seemed like a perfect idea to get kids who live around violence and have lived through such experiences to know that together we can make a change.

How did you come together as leaders and make the campaign possible?
All of us are really close in age, and we all knew Jericho. As we spoke about Jericho and supporting the Scott family, we also talked about helping other families who have suffered from such a tragedy. We knew that together we could make the impact larger. After agreeing that we should create a campaign, we asked to speak to Ms. Poynter, our principal. She was a great advocate and supporter for making our fundraising and campaign possible. After that, each of us took the responsibility of making fliers and spreading the word to make sure we were successful.

What were the most important results of the campaign?
The most important results of the campaign were letting the students know that even though we’re young, we can make change happen. It isn’t easy. However, when just a few of us worked together to show others what we are capable of, our peers really latched onto the idea. Some eighth-graders even took the initiative to speak out against what they thought was wrong in our community and started to work to make it better. This was extremely significant because, as the leaders of the future, we are learning early on that we can do whatever we set out to do.

Why do you think it is important for young people to speak out against violence in our community?Peer pressure plays a big role in our lives, because so many people are worried about fitting in. But if we try to be role models early on for what is wrong and what is right, we can prevent many deaths and tragedies in our community. If speaking out against violence becomes one of our main focuses, as young leaders we can change the way the future will look. The change can start with just a few kids.

What did you take away from the dialogue about how to be a force of positive change in our community?
From this experience and dialogue, I have learned that speaking up is not a bad thing. Many people fear speaking up because of what others may think. Despite this, you must continue to share your ideas and do what you believe is right. You can help change people’s minds. It is a great feeling to know that you impacted so many people and helped change the community so it is a better place.


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