love my reflection project

Junior High is a tough time in most kids lives. It is often full of name calling, backstabbing and in general most teenagers long to be part of the in-crowd. It is at this age that we rarely look at being different as an attribute, it instead is seen as something to be ashamed of and is ridiculed by many. It is safe to say that for a lot of people, junior high sucks. Sorry, but it is true. That is why the story I recently found on Yahoo was all the more refreshing to see.

A couple of girls from Portland, Oregon (yeah for the hometown team) named Avery Burn and Genae Vanek came up with a great way to engage their fellow students in something positive.  The girls are involved in a great organization called "Destination Imagination". "DI" is an organziation that is helps kids learn in new and diverse ways by pushing them to through creativity. Their site describes it this way: 

The Destination Imagination program encourages teams of learners to have fun, take risks, focus and frame challenges while incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the arts and service learning. Our participants learn patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem solving process. Teams may showcase their solutions at a tournament.

For Avery Burn and Genae Vanek they saw a need in their own backyard. They saw how much girls their age struggled with self esteem. Rather than sitting around, they decided to do something about it.The project was simple really, provide pocket mirrors to the girls in their school with affirmations written on them.

Some may laugh at this concept, Current research out of Carnegie Mellon University suggests that "positive affirmations" can increase a persons esteem and make them perform better. 

“An emerging set of published studies suggest that a brief self-affirmation activity at the beginning of a school term can boost academic grade-point averages in underperforming kids at the end of the semester,” said Creswell, assistant professor of psychology in CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “This new work suggests a mechanism for these studies, showing self-affirmation effects on actual problem-solving performance under pressure.”

They used stress as a starting point to determine how people performed when under high levels of chronic stress. They found that people under this level of stress actually correctly answered 50% less problems during the experiment. "But notably, this effect was qualified by whether the participants had an opportunity to first complete the self-affirmation activity? 

“People under high stress can foster better problem-solving simply by taking a moment beforehand to think about something that is important to them,”
— David Cresswell - Carnegie Mellon University

These girls probably didn't know all of this before starting their project, but what they did was afford their fellow students a positive way of looking at things that actually could improve how they do at school which of course then leads to feeling even better about oneself. So creates a cycle of positive reinforcement leading to positive results. Why am I telling you about this? Simple, I believe in spreading positive content. I believe in lifting up others. I believe in taking action. That is what these girls did and it's pretty fantastic.

But they aren't done. They turned this into a project called "Love My Reflection" and they want to go nationwide with their message, not just providing these mirrors to more girls but also hosting events and groups that can continue to provide a positive space for these middle school aged girls. It is important to know that during middle school a girl's confidence often plummets and we generally start see a change in in academic performance as well. The change of schools, hormones, social media and other factors come in to play. That is why this is so important. This is the time we need to support and affirm our girls.

They have a "GOFUNDME" page to raise money for the cause, I donated just last night and got a personal response from Avery's mother, Annie. I told them I wanted to help in any way I can so the first step in that is spreading the word. Check out what Annie wrote to me below

Dear Dawne,
Thank you SO much for your donation and support! We are in awe at the response this project has gotten and look forward to what the future holds!
We would be absolutely thrilled and appreciative to have you partner with us for an event...however, I know financially we are not there yet to be able to hire anyone or fund the marketing efforts. Any ideas or suggestions would be so appreciated though! Hopefully some day soon, perhaps with your help, we will be able to make an event happen!
— Annie Burn - Love My Reflection

Let's help these girls help hundreds, even thousands more to be confident.  You can even check out their website.

To learn more about Destination Imagination, click on the logo.