When Christian first joined the Bridges Program at Garden Grove High School he barely spoke to anyone. In fact, we weren’t sure that he was enjoying the program, but he showed up every week, so we greeted him each time and tried to make sure that he, and all the students, felt welcomed.
Two years later Christian was still coming to the program every week and, much to our delight, he had become and active participant. He spoke up often and was helpful in picking the top priority for his school’s BRIDGES Program – to stop bullying at GGHS.
But that’s not where Christian’s story ends. In his Senior year he became the student leader of the Bridges program and helped to develop an anonymous reporting system that students could use to report bullying incidents on campus.
Half way through his senior year Christian – who was by then an intern at OC Human Relations – decided to submit an entry in the 2012 YouthSpeak Speech contest. The contest challenged middle and high school students to share how they have responded to injustice in their schools or communities. After careful prodding from his English teacher, Christian decided to share his own story, something he had rarely, if ever, done in public.
In March the finalists were announced, he had made the cut! In April he competed against two others and had to deliver his speech for an audience for the first time. Christian faced very tough competition but ultimately came out on top – the 2012 YouthSpeak winner!
This young man, who at one time barely spoke, was now preparing to deliver a speech to over 500 people at our annual gala. He delivered a beautiful piece about the power of including people with disabilities and his hope for a new ‘R-word’…Respect!
We are so proud to work with young people like Christian, youth who see injustice and decide to speak out and take a stand. There are students just like him all across our BRIDGES Program who are fighting for safe and inclusive schools. They are young leaders sending the message all people deserve to feel respected and that our diversity makes us stronger.
We hope you will join their voices and support the work of OC Human Relations!
Now, please take a few minutes to meet Christian…