The 2020-21 Young Heroes Outreach Students proudly present their…
The National Liberty Museum’s Young Heroes Outreach Program brings the Museum’s civic leadership curriculum directly into area schools. Students spend the year developing key civic engagement skills; researching social issues and their root causes; meeting with stakeholders and experts; and finally creating a “Social Action Project” to address the social issue they want to change.
Each year culminates in what we call an Impact Celebration. The Impact Celebration is a time for students to be honored, celebrated, and recognized for the incredible work they have done throughout the year and take ownership of the change they have made in their community and world. Students are given the opportunity to present their Social Action Projects to over 500 other young student activists and leaders around Philadelphia.
This year’s Impact Celebration was completely virtual (just like school!) and the Young Heroes are showcasing their Actions Projects here on our website. We hope their actions inspire you to take action on a social issue you care about.
Presenting the 2021 Young Hero Schools
The 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Young Heroes at St. Christopher’s School organized their peers to take action against water pollution. The Young Heroes chose this social issue because they see the waterways around them filled with trash. During the research phase, the Young Heroes met with educators from the Schuylkill River Center and learned that littering was one of the main causes of water pollution, that unsafe water sickens about one billion people, and that rising sea levels are destroying freshwater wetlands. They determined that their action plan needed to have multiple parts: an educational presentation, awareness flyers to be distributed around St. Christopher’s School, and a school-wide clean-up day. The Young Heroes at St. Christopher impacted over 300 students, their families, and teachers with their actions this year.
The 4th grade Young Heroes at William Rowen Elementary School used their voice through art to advocate for racial equality. They chose this social issue because the killing of unarmed black men and women has caused racial tension, particularly after the death of George Floyd. They understood that a demand for racial equality is needed to heal our city and nation. During their research, the Young Heroes met with Dana Carter, an advocate from the Racial Justice Organizing Committee, artist Serena Saunders, and Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate Cydney Brown to learn more about systemic racism and how to use their voices to create a more equitable world. They want their action to continue to uplift the Black Lives Matter Movement and demand racial equality through artistic expression. With that goal in mind, they created a mural to display in their school with the hope that it will impact all 483 current students, as well as future students at William Rowen Elementary.
This year the 6th and 7th grade Young Heroes at Harding Middle School used their voices to take on the social issue of gun violence. They chose this social issue because gun violence is hurting their community and world. During their research, they met with Scott Charles from Temple University Safety Net and learned how easy it is to get a gun in Philadelphia. The Young Heroes also learned the immediate and long-lasting effects of gun violence and trauma on victims and the community. The Harding Young Heroes decided to take action by writing to lawmakers to ask them for common sense gun reforms and also by making educational flyers for the Franklin Coalition Gun Violence Community Fair on June 5th. They hope to impact all 768 students at Harding with their posters, as well as the greater Harding Community.
The 8th grade Young Heroes at Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences used their voices to advocate for animal welfare this year. They chose this social issue because of the number of stray cats and dogs they see in their neighborhood, learning that many people lack the resources to properly care for their pets. During their research, they interviewed Katherine Dikerson from Camden Companions Animal Rescue, where they learned that caring for pets includes having them microchipped, vaccinated, provided with proper nutrition, and spayed or neutered. The Heroes at Feltonville created a presentation to teach others how to make their pet an MVP (most valuable pet) and connect them to resources to help them properly care for their animals. Using their Freedom of Speech and Press, they are posting their Action Research presentation on Animal Welfare in both English and Spanish throughout the media forums, to nearby shelters and rescues, and on the Counselor’s Corner Website. As a result, they have reached over 600 students at Feltonville and hope to reach even more neighbors, so that pets in their community can receive proper care.
The 7th and 8th grade Young Heroes at Edgar Fahs Smith STEAM Academy used Freedom of Expression to illustrate the social issue of equal rights. The Young Heroes chose this social issue because of the widespread discrimination in society. During their research, they gathered data about many topics related to discrimination and equal rights. They learned that discrimination can take many forms and can happen anywhere. It remains a major problem in our global society and politics. The heroes at STEAM used art as a way to call attention to the many types of discrimination with the hope that the school community would start to discuss and address root causes of discrimination, and create a safe and welcoming environment for all students, staff, and family. At least 391 students and 55 teachers have been impacted by this project, because they pass the equal rights murals created by these students every day they are in school.
The 8th grade Young Heroes at Southern York Middle School’s social action project focused on combating environmental pollution through increased recycling and composting efforts at their school. During their research, they learned that a lot of trash and pollution is caused by single-use plastics, which create unnecessary waste. These plastics and other trash have a negative effect on health and the environment. The Young Heroes at Southern York Middle School had three goals: reduce the use of plastics and waste at SMS; create more opportunities for recycling and composting; and raise awareness about recycling and composting. They will work with school leaders to set up more recycling and new compost bins in the school, and raise awareness about environmental pollution through posters and videos. They hope their actions will impact all current and future students at SMS!
The 8th grade Young Heroes at the William H. Zeigler School used their Action Phase project to stand up against racial inequality to make the world a better place. The Young Heroes at Zeigler decided to use their First Amendment rights by making a PSA video in collaboration with the WHYY Media Labs. Students met weekly with Trent Hinson from WHYY and learned all about PSA videos, video production, and how to spread an important message. Zeigler students developed videos about the truth behind racial inequalities and advocated for change and greater equity in their community.
Long time members of the YHOP program, the 7th grade Young Heroes at the Joseph Greenberg School used what they learned about systemic racism from activists to teach lessons to younger students. Then, to spread their message even further, they used social media to reach family members, friends, and other schools by making blogs and posts. Through their great work, the Greenberg Young Heroes are empowering kids at any age to stand up against racism.
At the Stephen Decatur School, the 5th grade Young Heroes were advocates for animal rights. After learning about the cruelties that many animals in the entertainment world face, Decatur students embarked on a letter writing campaign to spread awareness about this issue and advocate for better treatment for animals in entertainment.
In Hostos 6A class, Young Heroes tackled the complex and timely issue of drug abuse and addiction. To learn more about the topic, the class met with Clayton Ruley from Prevention Point Philadelphia. Clayton advised students to think carefully about the words they use to describe people they see in their communities. By leading with empathetic language, Hostos students are working to create a kinder, more inclusive world for all. Their Action Project teaches others how to use compassionate language towards all and raises awareness about the dangers of stigmatization.
In Hostos 6B class, Young Heroes dove deep into learning about the history of racism in the United States and the legacy of slavery. This knowledge opened their eyes to the lasting effects of slavery in America and the varied forms of racism in society today. For their social action project, the students focused on racism in two different forms, education and police brutality. They planned a public awareness campaign about the historical timeline of police brutality and its connection to slavery, with an emphasis on how people are treated differently based on their skin color.
The 5th grade Young Heroes at Community Academy were new recruits to the YHOP program and completed the program in truly heroic fashion. The students formed an Action Phase Club and advocated for animal rights by educating the public about the signs of animal abuse and offered empathetic strategies to reduce harm to pets and strays. Mandy Hood, an Outreach Educator from the PSPCA, joined the class and gave a moving presentation about the importance of protecting animals and treating them well. Community Academy students created an awareness campaign about animal cruelty with the hope of increased adoption of animals into loving homes across Philadelphia.
The students at Julia R. Masterman used their Action Project to spread awareness for various forms of Animal Cruelty. The students created a class website to detail the research they did on animal cruelty and what could be done to prevent it. They were most excited to educate people about animal abuse, make an impact on how animals are treated, and to raise money for shelters. Since animal abuse comes in many forms, the Young Heroes from Julia R. Masterman created many ways of making a difference: design a poster, foster/adopt a pet, volunteer, become a vegetarian or vegan, create public announcements, and donate to related causes.
The 6th grade Young Heroes at Tilden Middle School are partnering with the Bethesda Project, a non-profit homeless shelter that serves Philadelphia. They are using their Action Project to write cards and letters, and paint works of art for those experiencing homelessness. These creations will be made into quilts and displayed at the organization to provide a positive environment for those who are receiving services from the Bethesda Project. We do not yet know the actual number of people who will impacted by this work, but we anticipate that hundreds of people will be inspired by the beautiful artwork and words of encouragement on display at Bethesda Project.
The 5th grade Young Heroes at Solis Cohen Elementary School used their Action Project to take on COVID-19 and raise awareness of the virus. The students realized that many people thought it was just a cold and did not take it seriously, and they wanted to learn why! During their research they interviewed Tonyehn Verkitu, Executive Director, Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, Inc., and learned that COVID-19 is spread by not wearing masks and close contact. They wanted to raise awareness on how to slow —or even stop— the spread of this illness through vaccines, social distancing and quarantining, avoiding large crowds, mask wearing, washing hands for 20 seconds, washing with hand-sanitizer, and disinfecting surfaces.
The 7th grade Young Heroes at William C. Longstreth used their Action Project to create a public service awareness video and accompanying pamphlet to share information about climate change and how people can help. Through their research, they discovered that we are rapidly changing the global environment and making the earth hotter by adding too much waste to it, such as when cars and generators release carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air. To stop this, the heroes at William C. Longstreth created a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to raise awareness about the dangers of global warming and climate change. They made a slide show, set it to music, and plan to get it out on as many social media pages as possible until it takes off and goes viral!
The 6th grade Young Heroes at Laura W. Waring used their Action Project to create posters to educate others about racism and how to join the fight to stop it. During their research, they discovered three things. First, racism is when somebody speaks or acts badly toward someone of a different race. Second, history gives us an explanation for why some races face discrimination and disadvantages. Finally, racism can come in many forms, including verbal abuse, physical abuse, and counting people out so they are not given the same opportunities as others. With this knowledge in mind, they wanted to educate others and spread awareness. They posted information and images on social media platforms to spread the word about racism and encourage others to join the fight to stop it.
The 7th and 8th Grade Young Heroes at Camden Big Picture Learning are using their Action Project to bring awareness to police brutality in their community. After viewing the death of George Floyd, and the unrest and protests that followed during the Summer of 2020, the students became very motivated to learn more about police brutality and how to end it. They decided to use the Young Heroes Outreach Program to do this. The students researched the subject and interviewed Mr. Ernest Owens, President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and Founder/CEO of Ernest Media Empire to learn how they can use their First Amendment Rights to peacefully combat the social issue of police brutality. Through their Action Project, they hope to impact the lives of 10,000 students.
The 6th Grade Young Heroes at James Dobson School chose racial profiling as their social issue for their Action Project this year. Although racism, in general, was their overarching topic, they wanted to explore various forms of this negative behavior. After watching countless videos and reading multiple articles, the Young Heroes chose racial profiling as their social issue, because they recognized that profiling impacts people of color in a multitude of ways, including their experiences with the criminal justice system, the education system, the healthcare system, and employment opportunities. To get a better understanding of racial profiling, the students interviewed Mr. Ernest Owens, President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and Founder/CEO of the Ernest Media Empire. When their research was complete, the Young Heroes at James Dobson School chose to create four mini-projects as their Action Project and hope to impact the lives of the 13 million residents of Pennsylvania.
The 4th Grade Young Heroes at Tanner G. Duckrey School are using their Action Project to bring awareness to bullying and discrimination at their school. The students at this school have always been passionate about bullying prevention, but this year they chose to incorporate discrimination into their Action Project as they noticed that some students were bullied more than others, including students with different religious beliefs, different sexual and gender identities, and other distinguishing characteristics. To learn how discrimination and bullying intersects and how to prevent it, the Young Heroes interviewed Dr. Tracy Waasdorp, a Researcher and Bullying Expert at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Center for Violence Prevention. Through their Action Project, the Young Heroes hope to impact the lives of the 704 students who attend Tanner G. Duckrey School.
The 7th and 8th Grade Young Heroes at Universal Charter School chose racism for their Action Project this year. As the students conducted their research, they recognized that there are many forms of racism, so they decided to separate by grade and focus on the different forms. The 7th Grade Young Heroes chose disparities in healthcare, education, and school sports, while the 8th Grade Young Heroes chose the issue of police brutality. To learn more about institutional racism and its varied forms, the students spoke with Mr. Ernest Owens, President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and Founder/CEO of Ernest Media Empire. Though the 7th and 8th Grade Young Heroes worked on different topics regarding racism, they came together to plan and execute their Action Project. Through their Action Project, they hope to impact the lives of 1,000 students and their parents in their community.
Strength & Fragility: The Story of the NLM highlights the life of the Museum’s founder Irvin J. Borowsky, and how his belief in universal equality and liberty, as well as his passion for contemporary glass art, led to the creation of the National Liberty Museum. Strength & Fragility includes engaging archival material, stunning glass artwork, and immersive soundscapes. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a magnificent 9-foot-high glass canopy by Ulla Darni, entitled “The Peace Portal.” It features a custom sound bath experience, Seeds of Love, written and produced by Philadelphia-based sound artist Luna Maye, in collaboration with composer Alfiya Glow.
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Since the NLM’s founding, a major component of our work has been our series of annual awards programs honoring the everyday heroes who live among us. This exhibition celebrates teachers, students, police officers, firefighters & first-responders, and healthcare professionals who have demonstrated extraordinary courage and made a difference in the lives of others.
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