What makes a beautiful individual, beautiful? Is it their hair? One’s smile? How about one’s size or fashion sense? To find out, the students in the Island Trees Memorial Middle School spent a recent morning investigating.
All 341 female students in grades five through eight gathered into small groups led by female teachers to dig deep inside themselves to understand the true meaning of beauty through the Beautiful Me Program created by the Hance Family Foundation. The educational, self-esteem program was designed to educate females by promoting appreciation for their genuine qualities, accurate self-awareness and the satisfaction gained by helping others.
Female teacher volunteers eagerly joined forces to become leaders for the sessions. Spending their free time together, they planned, prepared and organized for an unforgettable morning with the female student body. The young ladies had the opportunity to discuss the social and emotional stresses often felt during adolescence. By gathering together, some were reminded, while others realized the true power females possess; each one is beautiful.
The boys in the building took part in a similar experience with the help of the male teacher volunteers. Rohan Murphy, an American Paralympian, wrestler and motivational speaker, came to share his life story of resilience and self-belief with the male student body.
Through his life experiences, boys in grades five through eight were reminded that everyone has the strength to overcome obstacles life may present.
Having had both his legs amputated at a young age, Murphy illustrated that nothing should get in the way of one’s dreams. Whether one aspires to be a doctor, comic strip creator or just a kinder soul, all is possible through perseverance. After his motivational speech, the young men were divided into small groups, similar to the girls, presented with the opportunity to discuss the hurdles placed in front of adolescent men.
Like the girls, boys can also struggle with peer pressure and social media pushing them in a direction that they may not truly feel comfortable with. The small break-out sessions provided time for the kids to step away from the everyday demands of school curriculum and focus on how to handle everyday life. Boys, too, can benefit from the gentle reminders that being kind is cool.
Gratitude and praise is due to all the teacher volunteers who stepped up to make such a powerful morning of real life learning possible. Under the guidance of Assistant Principal Amanda Steele, the Beautiful Me program continues to remind our girls just how beautiful they are. The boys have Principal Daniel Keegan to thank for organizing a morning of powerful reminders that often get pushed to the wayside during the course of a busy day.
The Island Trees student body and faculty are certainly leading the way toward a lifetime of well-rounded, beautiful individuals.
For more information on the Beautiful Me program visit www.beautifulme.org. To learn more about Murphy, check out his website at www.rohanmurphy.com.
—Submitted by the United Teachers of Island Trees