Written by Calvin Jackson|
Photos by Calvin Jackson|
On Tuesday, May 23rd, a group of Morgan students ventured to the University of Connecticut School of Law to attend the annual CT Kids Speak that is put on by the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. The purpose of the event is to bring kids together from all over the state and help them realize how powerful their voices are. Topics such as discrimination, racism, religious prejudice, cyberbullying, and suicide prevention were all presented by the special guest speakers to the students and chaperones in attendance.
Assistant Attorney General Vanessa Avery talked about the topic of Fear and Faith and Immigration. She shared how she endured her own struggles as a young African-American woman growing up in an urban environment. She strongly voiced how racial equality is much needed among teenagers in today’s society because they are the future.
Connecticut’s state comptroller Kevin Lembo spoke to the audience about how to handle being judged by others. Mr. Lembo currently resides in Guilford, Connecticut with his husband and their three adopted sons. He told the audience about the struggles he has faced for being a homosexual and for having three adopted African American children. He urged the kids to embrace their differences because having unique qualities is going to make them stand out. Finally, Mr. Lembo said that it is important for kids not to let the judgment of others define them.
Another speaker was Hartford Police Department’s Detective Shawn Ware, who discussed speaking up about cyberbullying and other online related issues. He pointed out that the suicide rate amongst teenagers has grown increasingly, and in some cases, it can be attributed to cyberbullying, which can take place on popular social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter. He voiced the importance of speaking up for people who may be suffering from cyber bullying if they cannot get themselves to do it.
After the speakers had the chance to get in touch with the audience, kids from the crowd were given a chance to freely speak about whatever was on their mind. Many teens took this opportunity to share their own stories about hardships revolving around discrimination or bullying they have encountered. One high school student from Bridgeport, Connecticut named Tiana, 17, openly shared how feeling unsafe in her school environment due to the color of her skin drove her to organize diversity training. This is a program open to anyone in her community, teaching others how to embrace their own diversity as well as embrace what makes others different too. Tiana had no hesitation in saying, “Any time you’re feeling unsafe in school it is not okay. If you’re feeling unsafe or powerless you speak up until the problem is solved.”
Before eating lunch and ending the day, all of the kids were split up into small breakout groups to get to know each other and discuss various topics together. One activity students participated in was filling out and sharing out “Circles of My Multicultural Self.” The purpose of the activity was to highlight the multiple dimensions of our identities. It addressed the relationships between our desires to self-define our identities and the social constructions that label us regardless of how we define ourselves.
Overall, the CT Kids Speak was an influential event that the Morgan students enjoyed attending. The positive and powerful messages will reside in the attendees, accomplishing the aim of the event. The Morgan School looks forward to making future appearances at the Kids Speaks to come!