Award #63: Global Minds

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Many adults struggle to find a way to be a positive light in this tense political climate, but Peyton Klein seems to know exactly what is needed: honest, real, open communication that encourages connections.

Peyton’s determined to build bridges between people to expose our humanity and common threads so what we see aren’t the differences among us, but the similarities. Not satisfied with the growing incidents of cultural intolerance and bullying within classrooms and hallways at her high school, Peyton set out to make an awesome change among her peers; she started Global Minds—a student-driven, one-on-one, after-school tutoring program intended to combat the issues of cultural intolerance, ignorance, and discrimination by providing students with experiences to learn about one another in personal ways to reduce bias and generalizations.

Wanting to foster kindness and behavior built on understanding and openness, Ms. Klein, a fifteen-year-old student at Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, started this program in the hope of creating globally-minded young leaders who work together to break down walls while building relationships. Global Minds pairs students–ESL (English as a Second Language) with native English speakers—to work together helping them to get to know one another while working on projects that promote cultural and international awareness. Through discussions on current events, customs, and culture, students are cultivating connections by highlighting similar and shared experiences. Peyton’s goal is to show sameness and emphasize value in our differences—“finding out how much we have in common breaks down barriers and appreciating our differences leads to mutual respect and friendship.”

Her efforts have resulted in small changes that are making a big difference. She’s excited to see positive developments throughout Allderdice—students are helping each other with homework, interacting outside of school, and greeting one another in the hallway. Connections and friendships are being fostered. Peyton is seeing the great response from the student body and is excited that her vision is becoming reality. She notes:

“This program is a student driven response to these actions, to ensure all students are welcomed and respected. We need to have the resources to stand up and fight for our fellow students with education and knowledge. Instead of isolation and alienation, Global Minds will link students together, encouraging trust and friendship among teens.”

Hearing about Peyton’s efforts and ideas, Awesome Pittsburgh trustee, Mike Capsambelis, was impressed:

“We were truly impressed with Peyton’s initiative, as well as her compassion and creativity. She’s setting an awesome example both for her fellow students and for the rest of us.”

Global Minds will use the grant from Awesome Pittsburgh for materials, supplies, snacks, and curriculum development materials for students meeting in the after school program. As the program grows and expands based on the positive response from students, Peyton is looking to bring in speakers on various topics relevant to their mission of opening minds. She’s aiming to expand Global Minds to more schools in the area to affect an even larger student population.

If you’d like more information or are interested in starting Global Minds in your school or group, you can contact Peyton Klein at globalmindsinitiative@gmail.com.

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