Monday, March 28, 2011

Teenagers Who Changed the World: Part Three

     I've noticed that all the people in my world-changers' series so far are girls, so part three is all about the guys. This first one really breaks my heart. During the second World War, 12-year-old Calvin Graham joined the Navy by forging documents to make himself seem older. Before his true age was discovered, Graham earned a few medals, including the Bronze Star. Unfortunately, upon his return to the United States, somebody got the story wrong. They thought he was a sailor trying to get out of military service by pretending to be underaged.This patriot was arrested, striped of his medals, and thrown in jail for three months before the story was straightened out. Graham was released from both jail and the Navy, but "denied an honorable discharge, denied his veterans' benefits, and denied the return of his medals." (see citation) Excuse me? This guy was a hero, for crying out loud! 
     Now, you've all heard of Braille, the deaf alphabet, and you might have also heard that it was invented by Louis Braille, who was blind. He was fifteen years old when he came up with the clever system of raised dots that enables blind people to read and write. Louis taught this system to his classmates at the Paris's Royal Institution for Blind Youth. He tried to share it with his teachers, too. They weren't too happy about it. But the sighted teachers refused to learn it, and many of them actually banned their pupils from using it. They claimed the paper-punching noise they made while taking notes was a distraction. 
     But the students kept on using it. Older students taught the system to younger children when adults weren't watching. The faculty tried to punish them in many ways, including depriving them of food. They still wouldn't give up. Eventually, the administrators caved in and adopted the use of Braille in their school.
     Some people have changed the world with spontaneous acts of courage. If you ask me, it takes more courage to do something when you think about it in advance. Calvin Graham knew perfectly well that he could die when he joined the military. He served his country anyways. Louis Braille and his fellow students knew they would be punished. They didn't quit. Stamina like that is rare, even among adults. Let's not forget their bravery and determination.
Sources :http:/

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Teenagers Who Changed The World: Part Two

     On March 2, 1955, a certain African-American woman was sitting in a city bus when a white passenger suddenly needed a seat. This woman refused to give up her place. "It's my constitutional right!" she exclaimed. In response, she was seized by the wrists, her belongings scattered everywhere, dragged from the bus, sworn at by policeman, and thrown into jail. This woman was...
     ...Claudette Colvin.
     I heard that. You just said, "Huh?"
     Months later, another black woman was arrested. Her name was Mary Louise Smith. Never heard that name either, have you? Let's see if you recognize the next name.
     Almost a year after Colvin's experience, Rosa Parks choose to follow Claudette's example. She was escorted of the bus by police. One of them kindly carried her bag. You know this story. But how is it that every first grader in America has heard of Parks, but not those who acted first?
     Colvin was fifteen years old. Smith was eighteen. And they couldn't have teenagers as the face of  world-changing protests, could they?
     Prejudice in the midst of a civil rights movement. Does anybody else see that as slightly ironic?
     Parks lived the rest of her life in the spotlight. Colvin was shunned and even faced hostility from both white and black people. Teachers, parents, and even other students were embarrassed that somebody else-and a teenager, no less- had the courage to do what they didn't. As she walked down the hall, classmates would call out, "It's my constitutional right! It's my constitutional right!" in mocking tones.
     In her only biography, Claudette said, "I decided I would be safer [working] in restaurants than in white people's homes — you never knew who was KKK. But whenever I'd start a job in a cafeteria, word would get around fast about who I was. ... I got fired from several restaurant jobs when my employers found out I was the one who wouldn't give up her seat. I'd change my name back and forth from Colvin to Austin so I could work, but they'd always find out and that was that." [p. 98]
    If you ask me, Claudette and Mary Louise showed more courage than Rosa. After all, they were the first to take action. Many people have changed the world. We can't ignore some of them just because they're younger that others.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Youth Rights President takes on Senator

     Last night, 17-year-old Jeffrey Nadel, President of the National Youth Rights Association, was interview by CNN along with New York Senator Eric Adams. Adams has been pushing parents to search their children's rooms and backpacks for weapons and drugs. Nadel argued that this violated teenagers' rights to privacy.
     I agree in part with Adams. I know, of course, that drugs are horrible things. I believe that parents play a large role in whether or not their sons and daughters abuse drugs. However, relationships, especially sturdy ones, are impossible to establish without a degree of trust.
  But my biggest complaint is the way the interview was conducted Before the debate had even begun, the host said, "Listen, Jeffrey, I'm on the side of the senator tonight."
     I am on my school's newspaper and my teacher advisor told me it is bad journalism to go into a report with a bias. Even worse is how the host interupted the President of NYRA three times so Adams had ample time to speak. This is a blunt example of teen ageism. How is it that in an era in which many types of discrimination are frowned upon, age discrimination is considered perfectly acceptable?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teenagers Who Changed The World: Part One

     You know all about Paul Revere and his famous midnight ride, but have you ever heard of Sybil Ludington?
     In April of 1777, the sixteen-year-old was tucking her eight younger siblings into bed when a rainsoaked, weary messenger came to their door. The messenger said that the British were burning down Danbury, Conneticut, the supply center for the militia. Only 150 militia men where there to protect it.
     Somebody had to warn the local farmers. The messenger was too tired to go on and Sybil's father, Colonel Ludington, couldn't go because he had to organize the militiamen they had . So Sybil got on her horse and rode into the rainy night. She found a long stick to bang on doors so she wouldn't have to waste time mounting and dismounting. Bang, shout, ride on.
     Paul Revere rode fourteen miles through Boston over good city roads. Sybil Ludington rode nearly forty over rutted dirt paths and cut across farming fields. Paul Revere rode for around two hours. Ludington rode all night. Paul Revere is in most American history books. Sybil Ludington is not.
     When Sybil was finally able to ride home, four hundred men were ready to march. Later, George Washington came to thank her in person for her bravery. Alexander Hamilton wrote her a letter of praise. Though infrequently mentioned, Sybil Ludington is just as much of a hero as any of the men you've heard about in history class.
     Other heroes include Rebecca and Abigail Bates, ages 19 and 15.  During the war of 1812, their town, Scituate, Massachusetts was captured by the British. American soldiers chased them out and left when the town was secure, leaving the Bates family a few firearms in case they came back, as well as a fife and a drum.
     Three months later, trouble returned. The Bates sisters, their parents gone for the night, saw a boat full of redcoats in the Scituate Harbor. They knew if they tried to shoot, they would only bring down one or two of them and then they would likely be killed themselves.
      But quick-thinking Rebecca had another plan. "You take the drum and I'll take the fife."
     "What good'll that do?" Abigail asked.
     "Scare them," she said.
     The girls played the anther of the American army: Yankee Doodle. The British heard it and thought American soldiers were sounding a call to arms. They turned the boat around so quickly that a man fell overboard.
     Let's no for get the bravery and contributions of Sybil, Rebecca, and Abigial. These girls proved that teenagers are very capable of making a difference.
     Interested? Post a comment below and come back to read about more teenagers who made a difference.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

So What is Ageism?

Hello, my name is Eliza and I'm starting this blog to raise awareness about ageism, particularly directed at teenagers.
So what is ageism?
Ageism is treating an individual or individuals differently because of their age. Though you hear about racism and sexism almost every day, ageism is a very ignored subject.
For some reason, adults assume that when a child turns thirteen, they magically become immature, disrespectful,  and lazy. Being a teenager myself, few things make me angrier than teen ageism. I hope that by blogging I can help change this stereotype. Please come back soon if you are interested!