Interview with Maddy from atop Mt. Lincoln

Our students are awesome.

We interview one of our Mt. Bross climbers about her Mt. Lincoln climb & summit.  Mt. Lincoln is all about outreach – pulling others around you into a cause worth solving.  We hope you enjoy this interview, and we are proud of all Maddy has accomplished within CYL.

CYL: What issue inspired your Mt. Lincoln Summit?

Maddy: “I decided to create a program after my brother confided in me about his bullying issues that led him to thoughts of suicide. I realized that there weren’t many programs in elementary and middle schools – which is where I, too, was bullied the most. I realized I needed to be the one to make a change for future kids.”

CYL: What did you do to address and help solve this issue in your community?

Maddy: “This past summer, I spent hours working on creating an anti-bullying program called ‘Fight For What’s Right’ that teaches kids about the effects of bullying.  I wanted to give them visuals and perspective from both parties, the bully and the bullied, as well as build up self-confidence in all middle school and elementary age students.”

CYL: What did your anti-bullying program look like?

Maddy: “I split the program into 5 parts: (1) love yourself, (2) love each other, (3) random acts of kindness, (4) embrace challenges, and (5) pledge. “Love yourself” works on confidence and teaches students that its okay to be different. “Love each other” works on building relationships and teaches students that they need to be inclusive. “Random acts of kindness” shows students they are able to positively impact people around them by doing simple things like opening a door. “Embrace challenges” teaches kids to be open-minded and reinforces inclusive vs exclusive behaviors. The last part is where the students sign a “pledge” saying they will stand up against bullies, embrace their uniqueness, and be friendly to their peers. Each part involves a verbal lesson, a visual game, and then a reflection. That way every student is able to take something away from the activity.

CYL: When does this program happen for your community?

Maddy: “This is a 2-3 hour program that occurred at the beginning of the school year. Since this day, there are monthly themes that include challenges to remind students of the things they learned. Our themes motivate students to be more involved in their community, learn to be a leader, create a positive climate, build confidence, and embrace who they are. Schools are able to use the themes to whatever extent they want, some are using competitions to get students intrigued while others just announce the challenge every day in the morning.”

CYL: What were your outreach goals for this Summit?

Maddy: “My goal was to implement this program in at least get one middle and one elementary school.  I met my goal, and I am impacting at least 900 kids!”

CYL: Mt. Lincoln is all about outreach and getting others involved in your cause?  How did you get the community involved in this cause?

Maddy: “First, I create the program’s curriculum with collaborative ideas from CYL & another non-profit called Peace Jam.  Next, I sought opinions from adult figures in my community.  Third, I communicated with schools to get the program set up. I had to arrange for other students to come help me teach it and work with others to get the materials for the activities. This was hard in the beginning, but the impact I have made in the student’s lives is worth the time and effort. I was able to create a safe environment for students to learn.”

CYL: What challenges or obstacles did you face? How did you meet those challenges?

Maddy: “I did not get many responses from schools at first and had difficulty with communication. I then decided to try to reach out to the head of the district to try and make it a district wide requirement. I got a response quickly and am slowly moving towards spreading it to every school. I expected that it would be a quick process so it was hard to have communication so spread out. I also had difficulty finding others to help me teach the program. I went to schools during school hours which meant that some high school students wouldn’t be able to come due to their class schedule.”

CYL: What impact did your achievement have on the community around you?

Maddy: “After implementing my program, the teachers reported that the students were more self-aware and respectful to their peers. They felt safer in their environment and felt more included in their school. They watched what they said and understood that what they said impacted other people. Teachers also reports that they didn’t have to discipline students as frequently either. Students were smiling more and were able to get a better education because they didn’t have to worry about being judged. Students grades are going up because they are able to concentrate on school.

CYL: Why is your program so effective?

Maddy: “I think the visual aspect of my program allows students to see the impact of being on both sides of the situation. I allowed them to be in the position of the bully and the bullied. This allowed them to understand where issues came from and how each party felt.”

CYL: What is the best part about climbing these CYL summits?

Maddy: CYL Leadership Program motivates me to give back to my local community.  I’ve only been part of CYL for a year, but it’s my passion, and now I can proudly write on my college applications that I have volunteered over 600 hours with this organization and their non-profit partners.”

CYL: What is ahead for your Mt. Bross climb?

Maddy: The Apex project in our Mt. Bross climb asks us to articulate our core values and passions in a massive project, event, or internship.  My core values align with CYL and I believe high schoolers can change their community way more than they know!  I am currently organizing a May volunteer fair called CYL’s Sneak Peak to Summer.  I have contacted all the non-profits, and I am working on having one on one meetings with everyone.  I currently have 40 non-profits coming to the event.  I had to find a venue and reach out to local schools and businesses to support it’s success.  Right now, I spend between 3-5 hours a day on this project, but it’s a blast!”

March 16, 2015