For my YPI project, I worked with Part of the Solution, or POTS which is based in the Bronx and feeds the people who are food insecure. Before this project my opinion towards hunger within New York was that it was not an important issue; on the contrary the opposite is true. Hunger in New York is much more dense than the nation average. I now understand the importance of this issue and its effects. I developed better group working skills, this is what was hardest for me. Working as a group and working at a pace of multiple people was hard for me as I like to work quickly. I rather than only working at POTS will try to work at more homeless shelters as that is where most help is needed. All in all I loved this project because it took a break from the history curriculum and focused on current events, but not in a passive manner. It allowed us to actively stop the crises that affect our world today. I hope that projects like these will be continued throughout my high school career.
This years service day was a lot of fun and very enjoyable. Me and my advisory as well as another advisory went to Harlem where the NYC common pantry resided. We were packing and stacking various diferent boxes of grains, fruits, and many other various food groups. This was a great experience because we fed so many different families that could not afford food. What I enjoyed most was the fact that we were all working together for a great cause. It was a lot of fun and we all definitely realized (or at least I realized) that extra hands for a good cause is always great. This service day was super fun, enjoyable, and helpful.
Reading Partners is a national nonprofit organization that partners with under-resourced schools to work with students who are 6 months or more behind grade level in reading. I started working with Reading Partners 3 months ago at PS 305 at 344 Monroe St, Brooklyn in Bedford Stuyvesant with a first grade girl named Angelique. When I began lessons with her she was a beginner reader, she barely new the sounds every letter of the alphabet made and after just a few one-on-one lessons for an hour she was fluently reading beginner books making it obvious to me that she was a very bright and capable student who just needed some attention that it was impossible for her to get in her class of 30.
For so many of the students in this school, who are repeating grades for the 3rd time or way behind in their reading level, it isn’t because they aren’t bright, it is because their schools are under-funded and can’t provide the services and programs to support individualized instruction. Their classes are overcrowded making it impossible for teachers to provide each student with the personalized attention they may need. Public schools get funding from the city and the city takes those funds from property taxes, thus schools in poor neighborhoods are at quite a disadvantage even though those are the schools that should be getting more resources to combat the disadvantage they’re already at the students coming from lower income families. This experience has left me with a lot of questions. I want to learn more about educational equity.
Working with Reading Partners was an invaluable experience because reading is the basis of all learning and learning is the key to success in future endeavors. I enjoyed working with Angelique and watching her go from being a beginner reader to successfully reading small chapter books and sounding out larger words with no problem. I was surprised that within just a month and a 1/2 we were able to see huge gains in her reading level. This was such a rewarding and amazing experience. Reading Partners is an awesome organization and I encourage everyone to check it out and get involved.
Reflecting on the Women’s More Fitness Half Marathon
The Women’s More Fitness Half Marathon took place on April 19th 2015.
My sister was a proud participant, and I was a proud audience member. During
the Half Marathon, I did not cheer for just my sister, but all of the women
running to promote fitness for women. The event was an example of a great
opportunity for any woman looking for a challenge. While cheering on for those
running, I noticed how happy each person was to be running for a cause. The fact
that the event enabled both supporters and runners to come together and
promote women’s fitness was amazing. The strength of the audience and runners
demonstrated how powerful fitness is when done together. Although the runners
were all female, many of the audience members were dads and sons and others
supporting a cause that was not specific to them. This showed me that people
care about more than that which merely concerns them. We are so lucky to have
accessibility to free fitness facilities in NYC such as central park. The race signified
that those places to practice fitness are not exclusive to males, and female fitness
is equally important to male fitness.
During the month of May, my history teacher, Kristen Fairey, asked our class to research an area around the school and create a walking tour based on this research. I, with two others, chose to research Irving Place and give the tour on a Saturday at around 12:00. Parents and students alike signed up for our tour, where we investigated the history of Irving Place and the person whom the street was named after, Washington Irving. We all learned useful and interesting tidbits about the different buildings that line Irving Place and we were able to show our knowledge through the walking tour. It was a really fulfilling feeling to be able to bestow information that we had learned upon the community.
For my service reflection I am choosing to write about the AIDS walk. On may 17th, I headed tocentral park to participate in the 2015 AIDS walk along with other members of the Friends Seminarycommunity. I wanted to write my reflection on this event because I feel that the annual AIDS walk is avery great event. I think this because the AIDS walk helps spread awareness about the sexuallytransmitted disease known as HIV. More than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIVinfection, and almost 1 in 7 (14%) are unaware of their infection. Also, Gay, bisexual, and other men whohave sex with men (MSMa), particularly young black/African American MSM, are most seriously affectedby HIV. By race, blacks/African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV. These statistics onlyfurther highlight the importance of the AIDS walk because these statistics show how many differentpeople are affected by the disease. I hope to continue doing the Annual AIDS walk in central park, so thatI can contribute to the spread of AIDS Awareness.
This year, my most fulfilling service experience came from my time with a section of Friends Seminary kindergarteners, with whom I spent almost every Friday afternoon during the second semester. I assisted Jody Caiola in organizing materials, supervising students, and teaching photography skills. On most days, I accompanied the kids to Rutherford Park and other local sites where the students were implored to experiment with their cameras and the ways in which different environments and prompts influenced final products. Once they were done shooting, we returned to the classroom and I uploaded pictures into personal folders that I had created for them where they proceeded to experiment with Photo-shop. I helped Jody introduce concepts such as temperature, saturation, contrast, exposure, cropping, landscape photos, portraits, and the like. From stimuli that were concrete as imitating the style of photographer Ansel Adams to abstract as emulating the feelings of chaos, I got to observe the way in which younger children express themselves creatively. The manner that the students got excited about their respective ideas was one of the most rewarding aspects, as I knew that I had aided in introducing them to this creative outlet. Further, I was enthralled with and refreshed by their enthusiasm, as it is a type of excitement that is unique to that age. In addition to the technical assistance, I forged relationships with some of the students that elicited nostalgic memories of my experiences in elementary school. I remembered how significant certain teachers, classes, and students were in developing my own interests and opinions. Assisting in this class weekly, I was able to observe and be a part of other students entries into exploring their own interests.
Participating in the Youth Philanthropy Initiative opened my eyes to the world in a whole new way. My project was drug abuse and mental illness amongst the homeless. In New York City we see tens if not hundreds of homeless people in the span of one week, and my partners and I tried to advocate for the homeless by explaining that many of them suffer with real illnesses. Traveling to the Bowery Residence Committee wasn’t only fun because I got to meet and help the staff, but it was also fun because I had learned new facts and heard touching stories from people who have lived on the street. Another great thing about what we as grade did is that even though we had the chance to speak on the behalf of a specific topic we also got to hear the topics of others. In my opinion no ones topic was more important than the other because all of them were prevalent issues. This year I feel like service has been a big part of my school year and I’m very thankful for that.
This service day was the best service day I have ever had at Friends. Not only was it fun, but I felt as though I was making an impact. When I was packing the various meat at the Food Bank, and simultaneously learning about how this food I was packing was going to help people, I knew it would be the most impactful service day yet. Traveling far away and helping out a small community that doesn’t always affect me is a nice for Service, and sometimes better than helping the local community, but this service day I knew I was helping the local community, and I thought that was unique. It was an experience where I felt like I was helping fellow New Yorkers, people who I shared this great city with. That was not the only reason it felt like the best Service day. I also enjoyed the aspect of helping people directly, rather than helping the environment. I think the environment is important, but the impact that I felt when I knew I was packing somebody’s dinner was greater than the impact I feel cleaning up a river or park.
For our YPI Project my group Fouad Dawkar, Sabrina Debler, Beatrice Findlay, and Justin Rubino chose to address the issue of suicide in New York. The organization we chose was The Samaritans who work on many ways of suicide prevention. The main way that really struck me is their suicide prevention hotline. I always knew about these hotlines and how they worked, but never truly understood that if handled the right way it could save someones life. I also came to understand how the people calling may feel and come to sympathize with them rather than wondering why they would do such a thing. Though we did not get that far in the YPI competition I feel I learned a lot about my organization as well as the difference we can make through service. This project helped teach me about The Samaritans and about the importance of service and that I work for what I believe in.