This fall, I participated in a walk to end breast cancer in the Battery Park area. The walk was hosted by Lionheart, a charity that is a separate entity from Susan G. Komen. The charity was started by my aunt Kathleen Van Rijn after her battle with breast cancer over a decade ago. Originally, she started the group as a team that was a part of the Komen Cancer research network. When the Komen charity revoked its support of planned parenthood and began decreasing specificity of which research centers their money was going to, my aunt began to re-evaluate het ties to the charity.
Ultimately, she turned Lionheart into its own independent group and partnered with the Smillow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. For the walk, I had to register on the charity website and then connect with family members and ask them to sponsor me. We then walked several miles from the Battery Park area to around Union Square. The walk was a great chance to talk to breast cancer survivors and learn about the experience of going through breast cancer. Since everyone on the walk was wearing their Lionheart t-shirts, we were able to teach others about the charity and why we were walking. The walk also helped me raise over $300 dollars to support the next generation of breast cancer research. I strongly urge all Friends students to check out Lionheart at http://lionheart.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1154028
And get involved in their walks or swimming lap-a-thons.
I began to get involved with Empty Bowls last year and I did a lot of work on the charity with Michael Lowe this year. Empty Bowls is grass roots movement to fight hunger where students will make ceramic bowls and learn about the issues of hunger in their community. At the end of the year these bowls are sold and all of the proceeds go to Share Our Strength to fight hunger. The charity is a great way to both get hands on and make something tangible as well as learn about important issues. This year I helped students make, glaze, and fire bowls at multiple sessions. At the end of the year I worked with a few students and Phyllis to box and label the bowls so we begin next year with a head start on the bowls for our final event and have our organizing system pre-set.
At every session I would give a brief hunger talk about issues facing NYC and students can do to fix them. The first step is knowledge, and many people don’t know that 25% of households with children in cities are food insecure. People are also surprised that in New York, the Empire State, about one in seven people are unsure of where their next meal is coming from. Hunger issues run even deeper than this, with the cut off for receiving benefits set at an incredibly low level and the benefits equating to about $2.17 per person per meal. Many Americans live in so called food deserts without access to fresh fruit and vegetables and must drive for extended amounts of time of take public transit. Beyond presenting issues I like to talk about certain ways people can help fight hunger in their community. I provide information on local food kitchens that allow teenage volunteers, churches that host family events, such as the sandwich drive at my local church on the Upper West Side, and box top campaigns hosted by popular brands that pledge donations to fight hunger. With Empty Bowls, it has been an incredible experience to shine a light on the issue of food insecurity in our city and empower students with the tools to tackle the issue.
I have always found myself to be a math and science kid, so it made sense to me that I would tutor in Chemistry and lead Chemistry Review. I am also in the AP Chemistry class this year, so much of the content they were studying I had to know for the course. I love opportunities to look at concepts from a new perspective and helping students with chemistry gave me a chance to see things in a new light. Throughout the year, the students I helped made me look at ideas that always made sense to me and articulate them more clearly. As I did this, I found myself gaining a deeper understanding of the content I was explaining. I was also able to speak with the chemistry teachers about what I found to be the main concepts confusing students.
One particularly interesting tutoring session I had was when I was explaining how a certain diagram related to something called resonance structures. The way the picture was drawn, it looked as though a molecule was doing three separate motions in rotation, where in reality it was doing all three at the same time. It was incredibly gratifying to see the aha moment on her face when it all clicked, a feeling remember having about the subject (unfortunately after I took the test for that particular unit). Looking forward, I can’t wait to continue to bring my love of science to the student body at friends in the coming year as I take AP physics and hopefully tutor another student.
On Sunday, November 24, I participated in the God’s Love We Deliver race in Central Park with my mother and a few friends. This was the 20th annual race, where all proceeds go to benefit God’s Love We Deliver. God’s Love We Deliver is a New York charity which brings hot meals to those that are home bound. Each runner pays a joining fee, and can make an additional donation. You can also get other people to pledge money for your run towards the God’s Love charity. The run was four miles in Central Park and the temperature with wind chill it was expected to be 15°.
I was about to start the winter track season, so this was a great motivation. That morning my mother and bundled up in as many layers as it was possible to run in and went down to Central Park. There we got our numbers and clipped them to our jackets. From there we went to the starting line and the race began. It was so motivating to be surrounded by all of the other people, but it became hard to catch your breath at times because it was so cold. My goal was to run it in under fourth minutes and with the help of some great motivational friends who ran it with me, I did it in 37 minutes. It was really satisfying to run for a good cause and I know I will definitely be doing this event next year.