Give in to Hope Day 47: YOU!

Here we are, on Easter morning–a day of hope, of rebirth, of new life, and of possibilities! Over the past weeks, we have learned about young people from all over the world, all with different passions, different problems, and different plans for their futures! Each of these heroes had something in common–they didn’t wait until they were adults to start on their path to change the world. You don’t have to either! You inspire the people around you every day

Here is my favorite verse in the bible, from 1 Timothy 4:12–“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith…”

You are the example grown-ups need in the world. You have the power to make a difference. The choice is up to you–what change are you going to make?

Questions for families: Thinking about the world around you, what is a problem (big or small) that you would like to make some kind of impact on? Can we make a list of information we need to get, and ways we could get involved? How can I, as your caring adult, help support you?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Thank you for putting these heroes into the world, and into our lives. Help us find our purpose, so we can make a difference too! Amen.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this opportunity to Give in to Hope for the last 47 days. We can’t wait to see where hope will take you next! We’d love to hear how you enjoyed our Lent experience for Children, Youth and Families. Please email ninaj@plymouth.org with any comments or suggestions!

With love, Nina, Dylan, and the Committee for Children, Youth and Families

 

Give in to Hope Day 46: Boyan Slat

When Boyan Slat was 16, he went scuba diving on a family vacation and was horrified to see more plastic than fish during his time underwater. The image stayed with him, and he spent a lot of time both learning about how plastics accumulate in the water, why people have felt they were nearly impossible to clean up and if there might be any way to rid our waters of plastic. By 19, he has founded a clean-water non-profit and began fundraising to put his water cleaning devices into production. He came up with prototypes (models) of a water clean-up system that used the currents in the ocean to naturally move plastics into nets, and then into a filtration system, to sort plastics from fish, sea creatures, and plant life. This process was not easy, and many funders and scientists felt that it wasn’t realistic. The first test models were made, and many of them broke. But Boyan and his team did not give up. He retooled his plans to instead focus on cleaning up polluted rivers, rather than the vast, open ocean, and his newest clean-up device, the Interceptor, was finally revealed and successful! Currently, there are interceptor devices cleaning plastics out of rivers in 4 countries, with plans for many more. Rather than give up, Boyan adapted, looked at the problem from different angles, tried different solutions, and stayed focused on his goal–any positive impact on the pollution of our water was a success. Boyan remains hopeful that significant portions of the plastics currently in our water can be removed, and the nonprofit he founded is also committed to stopping the entrance of new plastics into our water system from here on out!

To learn more about Boyan Slat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMenLxORN6M

What are your favorite things to do in or on the water? What are your favorite animals and creatures that live in or near water? How does plastic in oceans, lakes, and rivers impact activities and living things?

Closing prayer: Dear God, let us be creative, committed, positive and focused as we work to create change in the world. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 45: The Little Rock Nine

It wasn’t so long ago that separating people in schools, stores, on busses, and at drinking fountains, was not only expected in many places in the United States, particularly the South, but actually LEGAL! In 1954, a landmark Supreme Court Case, Brown v. Board of Education ruled that school segregation was illegal and unconstitutional. However, just because the court said schools needed to desegregate, didn’t mean that the change happened quickly. It took nearly 3 years of work by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the NAACP) to put into motion Black students actually attending and integrating white schools. In Little Rock Arkansas, 9 African-American students; Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Patillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas and Carlotta Walls, were selected by community leaders to be the first high schoolers to enroll at Little Rock High School. They were selected because of their calm, strength, and ability to withstand the bullying and violence that would most likely befall them during the integration. On September 4th, 1957, the teens attended their first day of school. During the coming weeks they had to be escorted into the building by the National Guard, and endured taunting, racist slurs, getting spat on, and getting hit and kicked. Still, they persisted in attending school daily, effectively integrating Little Rock High, and paving the path to integrated schools across the country. 8 of the 9 students are still alive today, and received a Medal of Honor from then-president Barack Obama for their bravery.

To learn more about the Little Rock 9: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk1tTCk2Kks

To learn about Brown v. Board of Education: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBKX-FyQWaE

What do you think it was like for the Little Rock Nine as they had to walk through angry crowds every day to go to school? Why do you think school is so important that people all over the world are willing to endure extreme hardship to go?

Closing prayer: Dear God, no one should have to fight to go to a good, safe school. Thank you for our education, and may we help others have access to education too. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 44: JoJo Siwa

Many people are familiar with Jojo Siwa, whether it’s because of her big personality making her a breakout star on reality TV and Nickelodeon, her songs that kids can’t get enough of, her youtube channel, or her giant hairbows. At only 17 JoJo created a brand that was a lot like her, colorful, sparkly, confident and full of personality! She was even listed as one of Time’s most influential people in 2020 and millions of tweens and children look up to her. She has always taken her job as a role model very seriously. Even though she is an older teen, and could choose to dress and act in a more adult way, because so many of her fans are kids, she has said it is really important to her that she remains relatable to them, and doesn’t encourage them to act to grown-up too soon. Early in 2021, JoJo came out as part of the LGBTQ+ community, sharing on her various social media platforms that she feels the happiest she has ever been. For many adults and young people who identify has queer, her coming out is very momentous. A young person with so much influence, showing herself as happy, authentic and empowered in her LGBTQ+ identity is extremely powerful, and JoJo will most certainly garner even more fans now.

To learn more about JoJo Siwa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlvAMw92lOE

To hear why her coming out is so meaningful for the LGBTQ+ community: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/celebrities/2021/01/26/jojo-siwa-coming-out-lgbtq-community-matters/4250186001/

Closing prayer: Dear God, Let us create a world where everyone has the power to be joyfully, unapologetically themselves. Amen.

 

 

Give in to Hope Day 43: Jasilyn Charger

Jasilyn Charger, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, experienced a lot of sadness as a child and teen. Growing up on a reservation*  many friends and acquaintances were struggling with mental health and trying to deal with it by using alcohol and taking drugs, stealing, fighting, and some of them even killed themselves. This is not uncommon in Native American communities dealing with the trauma of generations of abuse and neglect by “American society.” Jasilyn was surrounded by people crying out for help, and she was on a path to become one of them. A cousin, who was only a year older than her, had gotten very involved in social justice, and organizing in their community. He encouraged her to make a different choice and helped her get involved in youth activism and opportunities at their local community center.  She and friends got deeply involved in the One Mind Youth Movement to give other young Indigenous people on their reservation bigger views of their future and their potential. When the Keystone XL oil company was planning to run an oil pipeline through sacred lands and waters at Standing Rock Sioux reservation, a call went out to Indigenous communities nationwide to come and help support the occupation of the land. Jasilyn was one of the first people to answer the call and was part of the Standing Rock protest, including leading a group of Native Youth to run 2,000 miles to hand-deliver a petition to the US government and then-president Barack Obama, asking them to stop pipeline construction through sacred Native land. After that experience, she co-founded the International Indigenous Youth Council, to get the message of youth empowerment, social justice and activism out to even more Native youth, offering them new options for their future.

*A reservation is a small piece of land “given” to Native American people to live on and govern, after the majority of their ancestral land was taken away by the US government through treaties and wars. Reservations can often be in isolated locations, and have less access to money, jobs, services, and infrastructure (road maintenance, internet access) than other communities.

To learn more about Jasilyn Charger: https://youtu.be/nzXaK3gT8Ww

To learn more about Standing Rock, through the eyes of a young water protector: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA0sR6RA4zQ

How does hearing about some of the things that have happened to Indigenous people make you feel? How can we learn more about Native history, and how can we support Native people in the Twin Cities, and elsewhere?

Closing prayer: Dear God, so much has been taken from Native people, and they continue to persevere. Help us find ways to support and amplify their work and their voices. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 42: Darnella Frazier

In May 2020, Darnella Frazier’s cousin was hungry. But, the cousin was only 9 years old, and Darnella didn’t feel it was smart to send them to the store alone, so she went with them. Outside of their neighborhood convenience store, Cup Foods, Darnella saw a black man being arrested and restrained by several police officers while crying out for help. Knowing something did not feel right, Darnella pulled out her phone and recorded the incident. What she filmed was George Floyd’s last moments alive. When Darnella, who was already aware of the often unfair treatment of Black people at the hands of law enforcement, saw what was happening, she knew it was important to document it, but couldn’t realize that the traumatic 10 minutes she filmed would add fuel to a movement that spread across the nation. Because of her, people know George Floyd called out to his mother, and repeatedly said that he couldn’t breathe. Because of her, all of the officers involved in the incident were able to be quickly identified. Because of her, George Floyd is not an anonymous death, but a symbol of a broken system that requires change. Darnella is only a teenager, and filming the video was not about fame, or clout, or going viral. The experience was deeply traumatic for her, and she has been working with a therapist to process what she saw. She filmed because she saw something seemed out of balance and wanted to have a permanent witness of what she was seeing. She did not intend to do something that was heroic, but she ended up doing just that.

To learn more about Darnella Frazier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoJQ5p9M1CQ

Why do you think it could be important for someone to record a video when they feel like something unusual is happening? What are things we can do to make sure that people do not forget about George Floyd, and what happened to him?

Closing prayer: Dear God, George Floyd’s life mattered. Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. Jamar Clark’s life mattered. Philando Castille’s life mattered. Black Lives Matter. Amen.

 

Give in to Hope Day 41: Sparsh Shah

I am sure someone you know has broken a bone. Maybe you’ve even broken one once. Can you imagine what it would be like to have your bones crack and break all the time, every day, from doing simple things like sitting, standing, or brushing your teeth? Sparsh Shah doesn’t have to imagine this. It is what he experiences every day, as part of his diagnosis of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (or “brittle bone disorder”). Sparsh was even born with 35 broken bones! For his safety and mobility, he uses a motorized wheelchair to get around and hasn’t been able to be as physically active as other kids his age. Not being able to run or play rough games or sports hasn’t stopped Sparsh. He writes his own music and raps, sings, plays piano and records covers, raises tons of money for charities across the country, and is a motivational speaker, cheering on adults and kids and encouraging people to not let anything hold them back. Sparsh has not let his challenges get in the way of making his dreams come true!

To learn more about Sparsh Shah: https://youtu.be/X9amik3e-AA

Listen to Sparsh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqwzlMUt9oM

Do you have any dreams that seem hard to achieve? Are there things you tell yourself (I’m not good enough, I’m not brave enough) that stand in your way? What could you tell yourself to be your own cheerleader?

Closing prayer: Dear God, give us positivity, determination and a great attitude like Sparsh, and watch us change the world. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 40: Param Jaggi

Param Jaggi has always been interested in science, and in the idea that kids can change the world. You’ll often hear him ask “how am I supposed to change the world if there isn’t a world I can live in?” When he was just a young kid, he invented a filter that can go on the exhaust pipe of the car, or motorcycle, or other emissions-releasing pipes, and can filter out the carbon dioxide using algae! An incredible invention that can make the air cleaner and healthier for us all. He has continued his interest in the environment, specifically reducing how much carbon dioxide is emitted into the air. He is fascinated with the alternative sources that we can use to create energy, including the sun, water, and the wind. At only 18 he started his own alternative energy company! With people like Param around, we are more likely to have a healthy world for world-changers like all of you to grow up in!

To learn more about Param Jaggi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1-qvjPqaJ0

What are some ways people you know are making the world a better place? Have you ever let them know how much you appreciate them? How could you tell them?

Closing Prayer: Dear God, Let us take care of the world, so we have a better one to grow up in! Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 39: Iqbal Masih

Iqbal Masih was born in Pakistan to an extremely poor family. At one point in time, the family had borrowed a small sum of money, but they had been unable to pay back their debt. When Iqbal was only 4, the carpet merchant who had loaned his family the money demanded payment, that the Masih’s did not have. The carpet merchant took Iqbal and said his small size and nimble fingers would be helpful, and that he could work off his family’s debt. Like many other poor children, Iqbal was forced to work 12 hour days on a loom making carpets, even though he was only a tiny child. At around 10, Iqbal was able to escape this slavery but was again recaptured and forced to work. After escaping again, he was able to go to school for the first time, at a special school for kids who had been slave laborers. He immediately began speaking out about his experiences, being an advocate for ending child labor, and helping thousands of other children escape from slave labor. He, unfortunately, died at only 12 years old, most likely killed by someone who was angry about him speaking out against child labor. The amount of good that Iqbal was able to do in his extremely short life inspired other young people in countries around the world to speak out against this forced, unpaid labor, and for some countries to make changes in their laws to better protect the rights of children and the poor.

To learn more about Iqbal Masih: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UStGtNe6VJ0

If you had the chance to tell someone the best thing about being a kid, what would you say? Who is the bravest kid that you know? Why do you consider them so brave?

Closing Prayer: Dear God, No child should have to die for being brave, and speaking out against what is wrong. Let us continue to speak for Iqbal. Amen.

Give in to Hope Day 38: Christian Bucks

Have you ever had a moment when you just felt like you needed a friend? What would it be like to walk into a classroom, a cafeteria, or the playground and not have anyone to play with? When Christian Bucks moved to a new town because of his dad’s work, he saw a school with a bench that kids could sit on if they were feeling lonely. The school had taught all the kids to keep an eye on the bench, and if they saw a kid on it, they should go help that kid feel included and less lonely. Christian loved the idea and brought the bench to his school administrators, and then wanted to get the Buddy Bench out to as many schools as possible. Christian is not the inventor of Buddy Benches, but he was instrumental in getting information out about them to the media, who loved the idea, and it caught on and spread to schools all over the United States, and even the world! Christian is a kid like lots of us, moving to a new school, a little nervous about how to make friends, but once he saw a potential solution, he realized that he wasn’t the only lonely kid in the world and that other kids could benefit from not only the Buddy Bench, but training about how to be welcoming, inclusive and friendly to all kids at a school. Christian didn’t want to be a bystander, he wanted to be a buddy, and because of him, there are fewer schools with kids looking for a friendly face!

To learn more about Christian Bucks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-Go26RiCMM

To get a Buddy Bench for your school: http://buddybench.org/get-involved/bring-bench-school/

What are ways you can be more inclusive to kids at your school and in your class? Are there ideas you could suggest to your teacher, that might help kids feel more included and less alone? How do you hope all the kids at your school feel when they come to school each day?

Closing prayer: Dear God, Let us always look for the people searching for a friend and stretch out our hands and hearts to them. Amen.