What emboldens student to speak up or take action when others around them fail to act? For some, activism is an acute reaction to a personal event and for others, it is a slower evolution that stems from repeated observation and reflection. These three students are taking action and making change.
Saayda Sajid, sophomore
Saayda Sajid is an advocate for mental health awareness. She feels that everyone deserves to be happy, but it’s also okay not to be.
“I started advocating when I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and anxiety,” she said. “This opened my eyes to what so many other students experience every day.”
To spread her message, Saayda presented to over 100 people about this topic at the ELHS Tedx Talk event last spring.
“I mostly brought up awareness and talked about how to help and accept people who have a mental health problem… it was really empowering,” Sajid said. She also posts motivational quotes on social media and tries to spread positivity in her interactions with her peers.
“I preach love and kindness and peace all the time. I want to do what I can to make a difference in people’s lives, even if it’s small,” Sajid said.
Sydney Sager, sophomore
There is no doubt that gun violence is a problem in America as approximately 100 people die each day from guns. Sydney Sager, co-leader of Students Demand Action, is working to stop these gun deaths.
“I got into activism after the Parkland school shooting,” Sager said. “It seemed ridiculous that [gun violence] is a problem we have when there are ways to stop it.”
Her activism includes talking to politicians like Senator Paul Formica and Representative Joe Courtney, hosting voter registrations in and out of school, and participating in events like March for Our Lives and the annual Wear Orange event. She encourages students to get involved to help make a change.
Zahra Hassan, junior
Zahra Hassan is the president of the Diversity Club and an advocate for equality. She works with her club to start conversations at ELHS about issues people aren’t often comfortable discussing.
“I’m Muslim and I’ve been called a terrorist before. I’ve seen and heard things that are racist,” she said. She doesn’t let those people define her and she continues to advocate for what she believes in.
To spread her message, she organized a movie night where kids watched “Zootopia,” which had underlying themes of diversity. She also held a multicultural night, where students and their families shared foods from their culture and watched cultural performances.
“Talking about diversity shouldn’t be as uncomfortable as it is… This is about embracing our differences,” Hassan said.
Hassan has experienced racism first hand, which is a reason why she joined the Diversity Club and has continued with it for three years.