Which Changemakers Are Inspring our Sixth Graders?

The celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January serves as a thoughtful punctuation of our year-long dedication to teach children (and ourselves!) about changemakers from around the world that are working in their own unique ways to reach beyond themselves and make a difference in the world. Our commitment to fully embrace and understand the critical intersection of DEIJ and social impact work led to a new 6th-grade elective class called Identity and Impact. This class is co-taught by Hillbrook DEI Director Gulliver LaValle and Scott Center Director Annie Makela. As we continue to think about social entrepreneurship education as the action-oriented partner of DEIJ work, we’re excited to give you a small snapshot into an Identity and Impact lesson in which students share snippets of insights about changemakers that inspire them. Read on to hear what our sixth graders had to say!

“A changemaker that inspires me is Lebron James. He could have just been a really good athlete and focused only on basketball but he wanted to do more than that. He created a school in Akron, Ohio so kids like him could get a good education. He has BLM on his jersey and #justiceforBreonna on his shoes. Lebron also talked about how BLM isn’t a movement because that word means a start and end. He says BLM should be about a lifestyle and fighting forever for justice and equality.” -Hillbrook 6th grader

“A changemaker that inspires me is Cezar Chavez. I did the RBW focused on food and farming and learned a lot about farmers rights and the Latinx community right here in California. I really love to cook but I hate gardening because it’s really hard work. Both Cezar Chavez and Dolores Huerta taught me more about equality in our country and in our state. Now when my family drives to Monterey for the weekend, I always try to pay attention to the farmers and think about what their life is like.” -Hillbrook 6th grader

“A changemaker that really matters to me is Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I know that might sound like an easy answer but I think about how brave and scary it must have been to be them. I also try to imagine what MLK Jr. would have done if he had not been killed. It’s really sad when people die so young because it feels like so much is left undone.” -Hillbrook 6th grader

“Jane Goodall is my favorite changemaker because like me she is a bit shy but she is also very brave and loves animals and stands up for their rights. She has a special bond with animals and I think I also have a special bond with animals.” -Hillbrook 6th grader

“There are a lot of really sad things happening in the world right now. An issue that really matters to me is women’s rights and treating everyone fairly no matter their gender. Jazz Jennings taught me a lot about LBGTQ+ rights which has helped me be a better advocate and a better friend.” -Hillbrook 6th grader

“My dad helps to run a charter school and he is a changemaker that really inspires me because he really believes education is the most important thing in the world and that everyone deserves a great education.” -Hillbrook 6th grader

“Ben and Jerry inspire me as changemakers because they are white and really love ice cream but they also stand up for causes like BLM, immigration and the environment and they aren’t afraid to take risks with their business if they think it’s the right thing to do.” -Hillbrook 6th grader

“My aunt runs this awesome business. I forget the name but sometimes when she comes over to my house we talk a lot about that business and she even asked me about my feelings on BLM. She showed me what she wrote to her employees on Juneteenth. It was a really good message and I was really proud of her for doing that even though some of her friends told her not to.”-Hillbrook 6th grader

“Ilyse Hogue really matters to and inspires me because she stands up for women’s rights. I’ve learned from her what it means to dedicate your life to something that matters to you and how to advocate to make real change. Ilyse is not super well known and many of my friends have never heard of her but she is definitely my favorite change maker!” -Hillbrook 6th grader

Images from: Lebron James, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jazz Jennings, Ben and Jerry, Ilyse Hogue