For the Win is a guest blog series featuring the remarkable initiatives that young Americans are advancing to win the future for their communities. Each week we highlight a new young person and learn about their inspiring work through their own words.
Maryam Farooq, 14, was honored as a 2012 Hasbro Community Action Hero, an award recognizing outstanding young service leaders presented by Hasbro in partnership with generationOn, the global youth service enterprise of Points of Light.
My name is Maryam Farooq and I am an eighth grade student at Middle School 172 in New York. I work with a group called No Place for Hate, which is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). This program is 100 percent free and brings attention to the dangers of bullying and creates a more respectful atmosphere at school. Our goal is to make sure students are not afraid to come to school because of bullying and bring positive change.
I brought this program into my school because bullying wasn’t a topic that was discussed.Though that does not mean it didn’t exist. I decided to take action. I first started by getting a guidance counselor to supervise, then we worked together to create a committee of 12 eight grade students. As a committee, we meet at least once a week at our lunch period to discuss issues and create activities.
Our group is very active and we do a wide array of things. Our very first activity was an assemby and we were shocked at the feedback. So we continued and made more activities like giving out lesson plans to teachers, creating posters, pamphlets, letters and much much more. With all of our activities, we were impact about 1,000 students and achieved our goal of making the school community understand how important bullying is and help create a more respectful community for students.
This work has been rewarding in many ways. For example, ADL recognized us for our efforts and gave us an award. I am also motivated by looking back at the results. We are seeing the amazing difference that is being made in students’ lives. Other students have come up to us and said how they are so thankful for having this program, teachers have expressed their apprecation. Bullying is a serious issue, but it can’t get wiped out completely. Seeing that at least one person was helped by my work makes this whole experience worth the time and effort.
Now that I have graduated middle school, I plan on expanding this program by taking it to my high school. I am serving as an ambassoder for No Place for Hate and will have the opportunity to present the program to other schools in New York City. Overall, I want to make sure that more schools get the chance to create a better environment. When we all work together, we can make our schools a better place. So if one person can make a difference, imagine the difference we can all make together.
Ronnie Cho is an Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement.