Project Darfur, led by Miesha Ebacher and her first grade class, has led me to question popular assumptions about youth: Are “growing up” and “gaining experience” the only prerequisites for becoming important individuals who inspire others? Or do kids already have the power to lead and inspire? The answer–kids have more abilities than we give them credit. They are, in fact, highly capable of creating new ideas, inspiring, and motivating others. The only thing most kids lack is opportunity. Therefore, the more opportunities we give them to shine, the more kids WILL shine, and most importantly…the more they will believe in their own abilities. For a service learning project, Ms Ebacher’s first graders have been seeking justice by educating high school classrooms across Chicago on the injustices in Darfur. They have been sharing their ideas on war and peace and have inspired 5 classrooms of high school students to learn more about the world.
Last week, our first grade students presented Project Darfur to high school freshman at Urban Prep Academy for Young Men. It was truly powerful to watch young children learn about the world, speak up for the world, and actually be heard. Our kids reminded me of an important lesson that too many adults overlook or ignore: They are never too young to make an impact.
“I loved the kids and the way they explained and talked so clearly. It made me happy because I’ve never seen a group of 1st graders do so well and they’re really smart. These kids will have a very bright future and these types of things put a smile on my face.” -Urban Prep Academy Freshman
“I am so incredibly impressed by your clear passion and energy for this great cause. I want you to never stop believing that the world can be a better place- with people like you, how could it not?” -Urban Prep Academy Freshman
“You guys have influenced me to be a better person.” – Senior at Youth Connection Leadership Academy High School