-Ron Lapitan, Community Outreach Coordinator
Yesterday after school in the backroom of a cafeteria, the students of the George Mason High School Health as Right Club had their first meeting. For their first project, they will create a forum at school for students to discuss, “What do you think our school is missing?” They will use the insights from these conversations to plan service projects to improve the school.
“Can this count for service hours?” asked one of the students.
“I don’t want to advertise our club like that,” said another. “I want the members to join because they are genuinely passionate about creating change.”
In the evening 2 hours away in Richmond, students of the VCU Health as Right Club gathered in a library for their first meeting. A project they are passionate about is creating spaces of conversation about sexual assault.
“People don’t talk about sexual assault, then so many men are ignorant about what it is,” said one of the student leaders.
Today I spoke on the phone with an administrator from Walt Whitman Middle School. “A group of students were at a teacher’s house recently talking about how they could help immigrants,” she said. They will implement our program after school as a platform for their students to translate their desires for change into reality.
“We truly have more civic and human rights minded youth than we give them credit for,” commented the administrator.
All across Virginia, a culture of social action is fomenting, engaging young people of all ages. As it grows, it is changing the community’s perception of the youth, and the perception of the youth for themselves: from an image of distracted people with no deep thoughts about the community or the world to contribute to one of a generation yearning for change, swelling with ideas about how to create it and the will and passion to work for it.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
(Image: project brainstorming at the VCU group.)