Someone once said, “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” Be Strong’s November Student of the Month, Ryan is certainly adjusting sails at his high school in New Albany, Indiana. While the 16-year-old junior is busy with AP classes, running unified track, and participating in student council, he is still committed to promoting positive attitudes and mental health to his peers.
“I aspire to see a world where emotional well-being is prioritized, where individuals can openly discuss their mental health without fear of stigma, and where communities actively promote kindness and empathy to combat bullying,” he said.
Ryan has created a 33-member Be Strong group at his school. He and his peers meet biweekly to practice new resilience techniques and to support other students who might be experiencing social isolation or loneliness, especially during lunch. “I want to establish a culture of positivity at my school and that will require a network of dedicated individuals,” he said.
Ryan understands that his leadership position within his school gives him the ability to motivate others. He uses his voice to start and promote initiatives such as We Dine Together.
His teacher, Mrs. Uhl, nominated Ryan to become a Be Strong Student Representative. She said, “Ryan is a wonderful student and an even better human.” She is proud of his ability to use his leadership status for good.
Ryan knows that true leadership is a skill to be honed. He said, “Standing up not only takes courage, but the compassion to support others in their own unique journeys to persevere against life’s challenges. The core of leadership is about helping others. This is a skill that I admire, as great leaders succeed by standing up for themselves as well as others and bringing out the best in them.”
Of course, Ryan will graduate next school year, but he is already planning for the sustainability of his efforts. He encourages his peers to use the Be Strong App and promotes long-term change by leaving his school community better than he found it.
“We can all be stronger by building bridges instead of divides, by celebrating our differences rather than being ashamed of them, and by learning to be strong together. I want to do my part in the effort for change, and that will start right here at my own school.”
To learn more about Be Strong’s free programs, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To nominate a student to lead change with Be Strong’s innovative student volunteer program, visit nominate.bestrong.global today.