As an African-American male growing up in urban Baltimore, Babatunde was all too familiar with the ongoing hostilities between young people of color and the police. After he was unfairly stopped by a police officer while walking home from an afterschool program, he knew he needed to take a stand against the injustice he was seeing.
Isabella knows how big of an issue bullying is because she was bullied for the clothes she wore to school. She also saw other children being bullied just for being different. One particular experience of seeing a classmate with disabilities being bullied spurred Isabella to take a stand.
Adopted from an orphanage in China at five years old, Jessica knew what it felt like to be scared and unsure of herself in unfamiliar surroundings. She also knew that simple comforts, like having a stuffed animal to hold, could go a long way to help other children in frightful situations.
Justin experienced intolerance first-hand when, due to an episode of his Tourette’s syndrome, he was disqualified from a high school track meet. He was stunned and disappointed but instead of walking away dejected he decided to take his experience to make a difference for others.
Mary-Patricia noticed a sad trend in her life - that she was attending more funerals than graduations because her peers were senselessly killed by guns. Moved to action, she began researching the root causes of deaths in her community and possible action she could take to create change.
At the age of 5, Nicholas started visiting homeless shelters with his mom. There he met children who missed school, couldn’t participate in activities and sports, and had low self-esteem— all because they lacked adequate footwear. He learned that very often children in shelters received previously worn shoes that didn’t fit well because they were molded to someone else’s feet.
Sarah’s older brother has a disability, but it wasn’t until high school that she noticed he wasn’t included in school activities and sports. One day, a popular athlete invited her brother to sit with him at lunch—this seemingly small action changed both Sarah’s and her brother’s high school experiences.
At 15, Wei moved from China to Philadelphia where he and other Asian students in his South Philadelphia high school encountered hostility, harassment, and physical abuse simply because of their ethnicity. Wei could easily have become just another victim, but instead he took the time to consider why he and other students were being harassed.