Sarah Dianich has served as a SAVE Promise Club Advisor for 14 years. She currently advises the Clubs at Mukwonago High School and Eagleville Elementary Charter School in Wisconsin. Sarah also serves as Principal at Eagleville.
April is Youth Empowerment month, which means putting the power of positive change into the hands of our youth. It means giving them the opportunity to problem solve, to get involved, and to take action. SAVE Promise clubs offer exactly these possibilities, and empowering our young members is my number one highlight when I explain to people why Sandy Hook Promise Programs and SAVE Promise Clubs are so beneficial to our communities. Why SAVE Promise Clubs in the high school they ask? Well, because our teens and youth make things happen. And the more that they are empowered, the more that they will step up to do what is necessary.
Youth are both the present and the future, and our world’s success lies in their hands. A lot of pressure, right? Well, luckily, I have seen ample evidence that they can handle it. Here’s why:
1. They join SAVE Promise Clubs, which means that they have taken a step to change a microcosm of the world – their school and community.
2. They lead – knowing what it takes to shepherd others toward non-violence and kindness.
3. They make it all happen. Youth members are fully the key to SAVE’s mission, and they are truly the ones that run the show.
4. They SAVE LIVES. By teaching, modeling, and sharing the message of Start with Hello and Say Something, our student leaders work to save lives every single day. What would possibly be more empowering than that?
Every year, our high school SAVE members visit district elementary schools to lead a day of activities reminding the younger kids how important it is to stand up, speak out, be kind, and prevent bullying. They lead the activities with kids, speaking from their hearts about their own experiences, and becoming the role models that only youth can be for other youth. Teachers and parents can tell young people again and again that bullying and violence are wrong, but it takes another young person to truly get that idea through to one. The best role models are the ones standing right next to us.
Truly, it is the great privilege of an adult adviser to bring young people to a situation where they become the leaders. By giving them these opportunities, they are not only empowered, but they also inspire others.
It doesn’t matter if that student was struggling in school an hour ago, or had a rough morning at home, when he or she is leading activities to teach elementary kids to prevent bullying, that young person is a leader. That student is the future – and empowered. A brand new SAVE Promise Club member, 3rd grader Eme says it so well: “So for me it changed the way I feel about myself. Last year I was a shy little girl. Now I feel passionate about SAVE and I feel like I am a part of something!”
In these uncertain times, I am reminded of what Mr. Rogers famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” That is why you are in SAVE – you ARE the helpers. You ARE the change you wish to see in the world. As long as you continue to work as agents of change – no matter how big or small, you will make a difference.