Category Archives: teens making a difference

Civil Rights and the Young People’s Project: One Girl’s Trip to the SNNC 50th Anniversary Conference

By Deamonte Tibbs-Petty,
The Young People’s Project

The Young People’s Project is a non-profit group dedicated to raising math literacy and working for social change. Their mission is to change the quality of mathematics education for children. As part of that group, I traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina, in April for the SNNC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) 50th Anniversary Conference. More than 1,100 people attended the conference, which was both a celebration and a documentation of those who fought for social change in 1960.

I learned about so many inspiring people in the civil rights movement, and saw what they have achieved by fighting against racism and fighting for equality. One powerful woman I learned about was Ella Baker, an activist and civil rights organizer who was a strong leader and speaker for her community. To me, she is the definition of a role model because she stood up to oppression and fought for equal rights for the black community. Baker once said, “Strong people don’t need strong leaders.” This quote stuck with me because it reminds me that we all have enough willpower to lead ourselves.

At first I didn’t understand what SNCC had to do with YPP, until our College Math Literacy Workers explained to us that Bob Moses was in the civil rights movement and the actions he took to get his daughter to learn math are the reason we now have the Algebra Project and YPP. We were very lucky to be able to hear the SNCC stories. I appreciate what Bob Moses and SNCC have done because if it wasn’t for them taking brutal beatings and disrespect to come together and march for what’s right, my high school wouldn’t have the diversity and love it has today. No one is being judged or discriminated against because of the color of their skin. We are all treated like human beings, and to me that is love.

Besides going to workshops at Shaw University to listen to the activists, we also met other YPP coordinators and staff from places like Jackson, Mississippi and Chicago. Meeting students from all the YPP sites was a good experience for me because I got to see that we all want to make a change in our communities.

At one workshop, we did an activity called “Neighbor Circle.” We formed groups and got to know each other like neighbors. We had to pick a major problem that happens in our community and talk about how our group would work together to fix it. Many of us found we share the same ideas when it comes to wanting school to provide extra help, clubs, and money for those who need it. We felt that the way math is being taught makes it difficult for kids to learn, whether because of bad supplies or the scarce amount of teachers.

I feel like I have grown from this trip. I now understand that if you want to make changes for the better, you have to stand up for your beliefs. My ancestors’ fight against struggles and abuse make the world a better place today. I learned that you can make a change without using violence. The civil rights leaders were the role models and leaders of that time and now they are passing down knowledge so we can be role models for kids in the generations to come. Everyone in YPP has high hopes and dreams that students will become powerful adults who will make a difference.

View photos from the SNCC 50th Anniversary Conference.

Creative Ways to Show the Earth Some Love

By editorial intern Michelle Golden

We sometimes forget that Mother Earth is one of our best friends. Recycling is one of the best-known ways to help our planet  — but recycling doesn’t necessarily mean putting last week’s newspapers in a blue bin. By using your imagination, you can reuse almost anything  – or pass along to someone in need. So express yourself creatively — it’s a great way to help our planet!

Here are some creative, fun ways to give Mother Earth a hug:

1) When you finish a bottle of shampoo, cut it into pieces. Do this for every plastic bottle you come across. Glue the pieces in any pattern you’d like on a canvas or on a bare white wall in your bedroom — or even on cardboard to make a stand-up birthday card for a friend.

2) Got old string lying around your house? Got any thin shoelaces that you won’t be using anymore? Collect some pieces – by keeping string out of the trash, you save both land and sea animals from getting entangled and caught in the strings. Tie them all together on both ends (you’ll probably use three or so pieces 5-8 inches in length) and use the loop of string and your fingers to make different patterns. The most popular is the Cat’s Cradle. To find out how to make a Cat’s Cradle, visit for some cool tips.

3) Found an old pair of glasses from the third grade and thinking of tossing them? Think about donating them instead. When we throw out glasses, we are throwing out metal, glass, and plastic. According to the Glass Packaging Institute, recycling glass uses 66 percent of the energy it would take to manufacture new glass. That’s a lot of energy used to recycle glass! In general, because glass is heavier than plastic and uses more fuel to transport, it is best to reuse glass as much as possible. If you’re interested, check out these sites:

4) Prom is just around the corner, and many girls may be concerned about having nothing to wear. Why waste $350 on a dress you might not ever wear again?! This night is supposed to be special and it can be no matter what you’re wearing. One inspiring teen, Elizabeth Rasmuson, made her prom dress out of gum wrappers. By keeping tinfoil, wax, and paper out of the Earth’s soil and putting it to some other use, you can keep the planet cleaner.

5) Instead of charging your cell phone all night long, plug it in for a few minutes during the day. Not only does it save energy, but it saves your battery as well! Overcharging your cell phone can drain the battery – which means you’ll be back at the store buying another in no time. Waste of money as well? We think so.

6) We’ve all heard it before – brushing your teeth with the water on wastes a lot of water. But it also wastes a lot of money! Saving up for an iPod or those new green Chuck Taylor’s? Well, when you brush your teeth with the water running for even two minutes, you are wasting almost ten gallons of water. Think about how much money that is. Instead, pour some water into a cup and use that to brush your teeth.

More creative ways to love Mother Earth

Learn about the difference between recycling glass and plastic