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Young Changemakers Create Meaningful Impact

Local students lead initiatives for kids to help improve their communities.

Charvi Seeta: Harnessing Big Emotions

As a sophomore at Mason High School, Charvi has already undertaken a transformative project to support students' emotional well-being at Mason Elementary. Charvi recognized a significant increase in neurodivergence in students after the COVID-19 pandemic, and was inspired by her mother who is an educator. Her project aims to help students in need of emotional regulation and coping strategies throughout their school day.

“No one really tells you how you’re supposed to cope with emotions,” explains Charvi, “so I just wanted to give them a starting place.”

Charvi earned her Girl Scouts Gold Award by creating social-emotional learning toolboxes that were distributed to all third and fourth-grade homeroom teachers as well as intervention specialists in the elementary school. The toolboxes contain fidget toys, infinity cubes, stress balls and small brain games to help the students calm down, or get energized, depending on what they need.

She also created instructional videos that include mindfulness practices and help guide students to effectively and respectfully use the toolbox once teachers integrate it into the classroom. 

“The main focus of the project is to help students recognize when they may be experiencing a big feeling,” explains Charvi. “This includes the importance of letting your teacher know, as they could help mitigate it with the toolbox, but also without if necessary.” 

To fund this initiative, she successfully raised $2,357 through online fundraising tools and secured an additional $2,030 grant from the LoveLikeJJ Foundation. These funds were entirely dedicated to developing the toolboxes which Charvi assembled herself.

LoveLikeJJ Board Member Jenn Mosier says, “I was seeing the impact that COVID had on my own daughters, two third graders and a fourth grader. The school counselors are amazing, but with the toolboxes, teachers can help students stay in the classroom. This project gives my kids the means to manage any anxieties they might have later on in life.”

The toolboxes have become an essential resource in classrooms, providing students with tangible tools to navigate their big feelings effectively. Charvi’s project is not only providing immediate support but also empowering students with lifelong emotional well-being skills.

Sofia Martin: Spreading Joy through Dress Drives

Prom and graduation ceremonies hold special meaning for high school students. However, not all students can afford the expenses associated with these events. That's where Sofia, a junior at Liberty Bible Academy, stepped in to make a difference with her "Dress Drive" campaign.

Sofia was inspired while shopping for prom dresses with her mom. While they could afford a dress at a department store, Sofia was amazed at the high prices and lack of selection.

“I’m lucky to have my mom and her support. But not everyone has what we have,” says Sofia.

She initiated the campaign last year through the National Honor Society and continued it this year, collecting gently used or new prom dresses, shoes and accessories in partnership with Cinderella's Closet, a nonprofit that aims to give everyone the prom experience. Sofia’s goal is to help provide these dresses and accessories to girls who may not have the means to purchase their own, ensuring that everyone can experience the joy and excitement of prom and graduation.

With plans to lead the dress drive once again during her senior year, Sofia hopes to pass on the responsibility to other students in the National Honor Society after she graduates. 

“I wanted to help the girls who were just like me,” says Sofia. “Prom’s a special day, but dress shopping is so difficult and expensive.”

Renee Perpignan: Bridging the Coding Gap

Renee Perpignan is a graduate and former valedictorian of Kings High School who is currently studying data science with a minor in African American studies at Harvard University. She is determined to give back to her community, and her summer Coding Camp initiative is a testament to her commitment.

While Kings High School has a couple of computer science courses, Renee’s camp picks up where those classes leave off. She will endeavor to teach her students all the tools they need to code a website, including learning several coding languages. By introducing coding to young minds, Renee is empowering them with a skill set that will give them an advantage when they get to college, and that will be increasingly valuable in the digital age. 

“I want to eventually expand this program to target overlooked communities,” says Renee. “It is important to have everyone be part of the equation and to tap into all of the creativity that comes from people who may not have access to technology because of where they live.”

When she graduates, Renee’s goals are to do research to find where the biggest unmet needs are and to bring computer science education to Black communities. Her dedication to bridging the coding gap ensures that children from all backgrounds have access to coding education, opening doors to endless possibilities and career paths in technology. Students of all backgrounds are welcome to this summer’s camp, and Renee especially encourages girls and students of color to attend. 

“In general there are not enough women and not enough women of color in computer science, and I felt like I could do something about that,” she says.

The initiatives undertaken by young individuals like Charvi, Sofia and Renee serve as a source of inspiration and admiration. Their commitment to addressing social needs and creating positive change demonstrates the remarkable potential of young people to make a meaningful impact in their communities. 

“I wanted to help the girls who were just like me. Prom’s a special day, but dress shopping is so difficult and expensive.”

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