As the 8th Grade Humanities students finished their Social Action research papers, their conversations about influencing public opinion and changing the world were just beginning. Helen Turner from the Glen Cove Holocaust Museum was invited to facilitate those conversations by sharing her own experience with activism. In her presentation,”Understanding Impact: Deconstructing Symbols of Hate,” Ms. Turner talked passionately about creating empathy and understanding. She showed NSMS some the powerful ways individuals can move from being bystanders to being upstanders in their communities.

Ms. Turner asked students to view the large problems they observe in the world as “elephants.” Then she encouraged them to “eat” their elephantine social issues one activism bite at a time. Large tasks are merely the maps we use for making even larger changes in our worlds.

Some of the students have shared their Activism Elephants, and their inspiration, here.

Bella Freeman: Gender Inequality

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Educating people that everyone is equal and anyone can do anything
  • Getting groups together, standing up and proving points (more marches)

Who can help?

  • Anyone can help
  • Someone who wants to change the world

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • Others who believe the opposite or counter-arguments

Isabel Segal: Women’s Rights

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Educating men and letting them know that women are not objects! We are more than a toy.
  • Getting the word out. Getting closed-minded people to listen.

Who can help?

  • Schools
  • Teachers
  • Parents
  • Men and women
  • Speakers

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • People who don’t like women and who just dislike people in general.
  • Mainly men, who like to feel superior and not be equal.

Rosey Aureliamo: Stop Violent Actions

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Speak peacefully about it
  • Create letters to powerful people who can make a change

Who can help?

  • Parents
  • Principal
  • Teachers
  • People in government

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • People thinking I am too young!

Residential Surveillance

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Speaking up/out
  • Listen
  • Believe in your argument
  • Start a conversation
  • Get involved with others

Who can help?

  • Anyone who believes in the argument and is willing to step up and make a difference

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • Others who do not support my argument

Chelsea Dulaski: Inhumane Animal Testing

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Educate yourself on an issue
  • Make a plan
  • Gather evidence
  • Talk to people
  • Understand both sides

Who can help?

  • Organizations
  • Family and friends
  • Activists
  • Specialists (like scientists or technology experts)
  • People with experience (who have tested on animals or someone who has been harmed by a product that was tested on animals, like Vioxx)

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • Disapproval or opposing opinions
  • Laws
  • Age (if a minor, people may not take you seriously)
  • There will never be a 100% agreement with everyone, which is something you have to accept
  • It can be overwhelming
  • It requires a lot of time

Emilie Preuss: Racism

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Educating children when they are young, so they understand when they are older.

Who can help?

  • Teachers (school)
  • Community
  • Parents

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • Getting kids to listen

Stephen Eder: Cell Phone Radiation

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Making people aware of the risks that they are prone to

Who can help?

  • People who have had affects of radiation
  • People who are daily users of cellular devices

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • Getting the public aware and actually doing something about it

Jackson A: The Benefits of Homework

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Research paper
  • Show others the benefits of homework

Who can help?

  • Myself
  • Teachers
  • The principal

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • Schools
  • People against homework

John Piszczarowski: Protesting Gun Laws

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Making a plan
  • Researching

Who can help?

  • Anyone

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • People with different opinions
  • Laws
  • Police

James Reiner: Public Speaking and Speaking Your Mind

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Go after the goal, no matter who stands in your way

Who can help?

  • Yourself
  • Others who share your opinion

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • People who can’t listen

Sloane Brown: Preventing Hate Towards a Group

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Educate people about the issue
  • Make the issue public and spread awareness
  • Get the press and different groups involved

Who can help?

  • Organizations and groups

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • Bias and prejudice
  • People’s argument of their freedom of speech

Kyle Innelli: Cell Phone Usage

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Have a plan
  • Attack your elephant

Who can help?

  • People who stand with you
  • Ask for help

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • People who will go against you no matter what or won’t listen to what you have to say

Alana Golden: Equality for All

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Educate others- knowledge is key!

Who can help?

  • Everyone and anyone who believes in the cause

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • People who discriminate

Ella Blumenthal: School Shootings

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Let people know what/why you’re doing this
  • Get involved using the media

Who can help?

  • Students
  • Family and friends

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • The NRA
  • Conservatives
  • Hate in the media

Jessica Valensisi: Gun Violence

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Spread messages
  • Discuss potential changes
  • Writes or speak about the affects of background checks and improved border security

Who can help?

  • Organizations
  • Mass-shooting survivors
  • Experts
  • Activitists
  • Social media
  • Border guards
  • Friends and family

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • NRA
  • Opposite opinions
  • Reality- people say “it isn’t possible to achieve universal background checks”

Fiona Reagan: Limiting Gun Exposure to Children

What are the first steps towards achieving your activism goal?

  • Hear everyone’s opinion
  • Share ideas with the community
  • Form a group of people with the same ideas
  • Limit gun exposure to kids

Who can help?

  • Anyone who wants to take part in making a change
  • Schools and the community
  • Organizations against guns

What might be your biggest obstacles?

  • Not everyone will agree with limiting gun exposure to children
  • Kids and parents may not truly understand the negative impacts gun have on kids and the community

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