If you could solve one problem in the world, what would it be?
That thought-provoking question was posed to seventh and eighth graders at H.C. Crittenden Middle School recently, and the answers came quickly: Cancer. Racism. Gun violence. Overpopulation. World hunger. Poverty.
Students identified these important issues on May 7 during the keynote address that led off the 14th annual Power of One Day, the schoolwide event aimed at inspiring students to make a difference in the world and showing them that they themselves have the power to do so.
“The Power of One Day brings to life our H.C. Crittenden message of upstandership - that we all have the ability to help others and make a difference,” HCC Principal Kim Lapple said. “Students’ participation in the day reinforces and brings to light the power of the individual as a member of a community. It’s an inspiring event for our entire school community.”
The keynote address, featuring speakers Brianna Williams and Gabrielle Caddell of WE Schools, focused on the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and on students becoming leaders for change.
Ms. Williams and Ms. Caddell, who also spoke to the sixth graders, cited various problems around the world, including the dire consequences of unsafe drinking water and the challenges of global hunger. These issues, they noted, may seem scary or overwhelming, especially because they are happening today, not 100 or 200 years in the future.
“There are so many issues going on in our world that demand our attention, but also demand our action,” Ms. Williams said.
“The good thing is that all of you still have the ability to create change and reverse some of these negative consequences that are happening today,” she added.
They explained that the first six Sustainable Development Goals deal with eradicating poverty, the next six are related to industry and the economy, three more deal with the environment and the final two are on peace and justice and strong institutions, and partnerships.
The speakers discussed different leadership styles, like being a rebel, a helper, an organizer or a designer. They encouraged students to focus on one of the goals that inspires them and to take action using one of the leadership styles to create change.
“The biggest thing that we want you to take away from our talk this morning is to pay attention to these SDGs, but also continue doing the work that it is going to take to reverse some of the negative consequences that we’re seeing,” Ms. Williams said.
Ms. Caddell concluded their talk with this message: “You all are the ones who are going to lead for change.”
After the keynote addresses, sixth graders attended workshops that focused on various ways of making a difference. There were 14 workshops, including sessions on recycling and Eco-bags, adopting a dog, a composting workshop led by North Castle Town Supervisor Michael Schiliro, and sessions on the Midnight Run relief missions, making care packages for overseas troops and Islamophobia in America.
A mix of students from all grades attended a workshop with the keynote speakers to work on leadership skills and they helped organize a Walk for Water to raise money for charities that support clean water in a developing nation. The walk, held a few days later, was a success and brought students and faculty together while raising funds and awareness.
A sneaker keychain sale and bake sale on the Power of One Day will provide new sneakers to homeless children who live in the Coachman Family Center shelter in White Plains.
HCC sixth grade literature teacher Mary Staudt, who organized the Power of One Day, said the event is aimed at inspiring students to act, either today or in the future.
“It’s teaching kids to become solutionary to tackle world problems and to use their passions and talents to create positive change,” Ms. Staudt said. “I hope they’re inspired to find something they really care about and to try to be a positive agent for change.”
Noting that some of the workshops were led by Byram Hills High School seniors, Ms. Staudt said that the Power of One Day is a day that many students remember. Even if the message to make a difference doesn’t take hold immediately, it may one day.
“Sometimes you’re just planting a seed,” she said. “They’re 11, but maybe in high school or later on, it will come to fruition. Kids remember this day. It’s something we hope will last and will stick with them.”
During H.C. Crittenden’s Power of One Day, students organized a Walk for Water, which was held a few days later and raised funds for charities that support clean water in a developing nation.
The Power of One Day organizer, HCC literature teacher Mary Staudt, center, with the keynote speakers from WE Schools, Gabrielle Caddell, at left, and Brianna Williams.
During H.C. Crittenden’s Power of One Day on May 7, students attended workshops that focused on different ways of making a difference.