When we hear terms such as ‘student of the month’ we often think that these are students who go above and beyond academically or for other people. Yet what we need to consider is the ability that all students can choose to go above and beyond for themselves, such as this story from Girls, Inc. that talks about Anna.
Anna had been coming to Girls, Inc., nearly every day after school since she was 6 years old. At 11, both of her parents were in jail and she lived with her aunt who was a known drug abuser. Anna suffered from chronic stress, food insecurity and was repeatedly exposed to a violent household. She was often angry and violent herself.
While her behavior was not consistent with the values or training at Girls, Inc., the staff never gave up and spent countless hours trying to help her. After most other efforts failed to change her behavior, they decided to implement the Inner Explorer program, and offered it to all the girls, on a volunteer basis. Anna, along with 13 of her peers, decided to participate in the 10-minute per day mindful awareness practices.
After only 2 months, the director at Girls Inc. told us that all the girls who participated were growing and changing, but the most incredible change was with Anna. She was voted “Girl of the Month” that month, for the first time in 5 years. The nominations were unanimous and very touching. They told of a transformation so complete that it was awe-inspiring. The director said, as she held back her tears, “It’s as if Anna found herself for the very first time”.
Anna was no longer held back by the burden of a difficult and chaotic home environment. She was free to deeply explore her essence as a human being. She found beauty and potential and the inspiration to chart a new course for herself. This type of above and beyond wins my vote every time.