Back in June, I helped set up and run the Restorative Center’s annual fundraiser.
The Restorative Center is a non-profit that works to enhance restorative justice by training teens, attorneys and other volunteers. Most of their work involves “circles” in which groups meet in a circle formation and discuss their experiences openly.
The fundraiser was held at Joe’s pub, with a performance by Stephanie McKay. I helped by setting up the venue before it started, and by assisting with an activity for the attendees. The activity was to write what justice meant to each of the attendees on separate pieces of wood, so by the end of the night there was a pretty visual of what justice means.
It was a very fun and informative night, and I’m so glad I got to attend!
Over the summer, I had the opportunity to help make quilts that would be sent to victims of the Pulse shooting in early June. Everyday my friend and I would meet up for a couple hours to make the quilts. My main task was cutting out squares of fabric but on the final day I got to sew together the squares I had cut. I don’t consider myself an artistic person but it was actually really fun.
As soon as I heard the news about what had happened in Orlando, I was devastated and I also felt really helpless because there was nothing that I could do as a sixteen year old from New York. It felt really nice to know that I was able to do something with regards to what happened and I hope that the quilts were able to make someone’s day a bit better.
The end result!
This year, my chemistry class had the opportunity to do a semester long project on the water crisis in Flint, MI. We had an assignment every month and each varied. All of the assignments showed us how important it is to have addressed the problems in Flint and they all made us think about how we can prevent situations like this from happening.
For me personally, I was not aware of what was going on in Flint prior to our first assignment. I’m sure I would have learned about it regardless, but I am not sure that I would have actually cared about it as much as I do now. This project made me really interested in Flint. Because we covered a wide array of topics relating to lead contamination, I understand what is happening in Flint in a way I would not have had we not done the project. I would not have taken part in class discussions and hands-on learning experiences all about Flint. The project was extremely beneficial, and I am glad to have done it.
For my final Flint assignment, I chose to do a lab where I had to purify really dirty water. It turned out to be super cool and fun to do and it was a really nice way to end my year in chemistry. I was given water with garden soil, vegetable oil and some unknown chemical and from there I needed to make it as clean as possible. I was so intimidated by it but it ended up perfectly clear!
The water I purified before (right beaker) and after (left beaker).
Finally, we ended our project with a presentation to a fifth grade class. I was assigned to research the health effects of lead. It was really rewarding to be able to share my knowledge on Flint with kids who seemed genuinely interested. They asked so many questions and I think they got a lot out of their visit.
Moving forward, I will continue to learn about what’s going on in Flint, and I hope by sharing what I learned throughout this project I can maybe help make progress when it comes to situations like the one in Flint.
I participated in the ninth grade YPI project. I was apart of a group with four of my friends and we decided to choose a non-profit relating to teen pregnancy. The most challenging part of the project was deciding on what social issue to choose. We all favored all equally important social issues and did not want to give up on the idea of getting a specific non-profit five thousand dollars. In the end I think we made the right decision, although we did not get to compete in the final round of the competition.
I never really understood how important the issue of teen pregnancy is in New York City. The south is the main target of publicity for teen pregnancy so it just doesn’t seem like something that needs attention, but in reality it does. So many teen girls here still get pregnant. Although the number of teen pregnancies in New York has decreased, there’s still no excuse to try and work and continue making that number smaller and smaller. Dr. Michael Carrera, founder of the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, told us just that when we spoke with him about his non-profit.
The Carrera Program is amazing. They help teens from all over New York get sex education as well as helping insure that they go to college and have successful lives. Their main goal is to prevent teen pregnancy and they do this by helping the teens do well in high school and helping their parents be active in their children’s lives as well. Although we didn’t win the grant, I know that we’ve raised awareness of an amazing non-profit which is still amazing.
The Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program is apart of The Children’s Aid Society whose Logo is above.