Caring for Ourselves, Each Other, and the Earth at NMSHS
Article by Ann Sherman, NED PEN/ No Place for Hate
Photo by Adam Perkins. “Earth Task Force Super Hero discusses going Green”
Many March mornings have been filled with TCAP testing for students at NMSHS. But during the afternoons, the youth have been treated to lively conversations, activities, films, and guest speakers that helped them consider how to better care for themselves, each other, and the earth.
Boulder Youth Body Alliance and Interventionist Suzy Rippy helped students use critical thinking to look at how our culture continues to portray a narrow definition of manhood and womanhood. Popular media often reinforces negative body images and makes us feel bad if we don’t measure up to unrealistic body types and images. Students were encouraged to feel good about who they are, just as they are.
Laura Summers from BVSD Technology Services helped students learn how to keep safe while using social media and the Internet. She offered caution about spreading rumors and maligning folks on their commonly used Facebook accounts.
Gea Franklin and Mallorie Gaeddert, local dance instructors, got the kids moving to the beat with Hip Hop instruction. Gea shared how street dancing helped her survive growing up in a tough neighborhood in the projects of Seattle. Mary Joyce and the physical education instructors taught “Double Dutch” and other jump rope techniques to get the kid’s heart rates pumping. Both lessons provided ways for youth to stay healthy which do not require lots of expensive gear or pricey admission tickets.
Guest Speakers from VOICE and OASOS shared how immigrant children and LBGTQ students grapple with harsh stereotypes and social barriers. NMSHS students were given an opportunity to develop empathy and understanding for these student groups and their issues. The lessons about trying to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes applies to many people they will meet during their lives. Another group told the students about their campaign to end the use of the word “retard” in our daily language. Diversity Club students enlisted their peers in signing a pledge to stop using this derogatory word.
Local elder George Blevins shared his personal story about choosing to be a Freedom Rider in Mississippi during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. Students watched a film about the Children’s Crusade which depicted middle and high school students taking over one campaign during the Civil Rights Movement and forcing the issue of integration in Birmingham, AL in 1963. After learning about the courage of young activists, NMSHS students grappled with how they might choose to work for positive social change in regards to some current social issue they care about.
Finally, after the youth looked inward, and at relationships around them, they considered how to best care for our planet. The ACE Climate group and the New Vista Earth Task Force shared their creative ideas about how to make schools more earth-friendly. Students were given a chance to brainstorm concrete ways to apply these green ideas in Nederland.
An array of organizations from Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, and Denver visited the mountains in March. They helped middle and high school students realize the world is their classroom and there are many, many ways to care about ourselves, each other, and Mother Earth. If you appreciate these type of offerings in our community, please consider attending the next NED PEN/No Place for Hate® meeting on April 4th at 3:30 in the school library. We are looking for parents who are willing to work on community-building efforts at NMSHS next year.
Ann Sherman, NED PEN/No Place for Hate®