At Youth Frontiers, it’s our mission to positively impact school communities through our retreats. One wonderful part of our job is that the same students we reach often impact us in turn. For our staff, these students and their stories are unforgettable. In this series, we remember them.
This is a story of a student and his display of courage.
I remember Anthony.
Anthony was an eighth grader who was so excited about the day. He was running up to myself and other facilitators giving us high-fives, he was dancing in front of his entire class. He was just an awesome, really fun guy.
And so I was really surprised to learn that he was one of the number one targets at his school.
And I was more surprised when Anthony got up to share at the end of his Courage Retreat.
He said, “Hi, my name is Anthony, and my Act of Courage is to be myself and to quit trying to impress you all so much.
I know you all egg me on to make some really dumb choices and you push me around. I hear the names that you call me. And, I know that you say ‘you’re just kidding’, but honestly, you have no idea how much they impact me.
You have no idea how much courage it takes for me just to get up and come to school everyday.
So, I’m going to ask you all to please quit and I’m just going to be myself. I hope that you respect that.”
I mean for a solid minute. People just sat there with their heads down. Some people started to cry.
I don’t think anybody realized how much their words were impacting and hurting Anthony until he got up and shared his Act of Courage that day.
Coolest thing was that after he shared, old friends of his got up and they apologized to him for being a part of what was making his life so miserable at school.
And by the end of the day, there was that big smile on Anthony’s face again. But, we knew at that point that it was the real deal. It was a real smile.
He felt heard. He felt seen.
It was an amazing day. I’ll never forget, Anthony.
This year, on The Character Movement, we are trying something new. We’ll be delving into one of our retreat values each month, examining it on our blog and in our Character Challenges. This month’s theme is honor.