I AM… Destroying Stereotypes

– Kailin Regutti

(Defiance, Oh) Thursday, October 2nd Jordan Heilinger, director of The Service Leader Program, and her service leaders launched the “I AM” wall in the Hive, located in Hubbard Hall. The Service Leader Program partnered with the Diversity Council in the creation of the wall, igniting the kick start to the “Everybody Matters Campaign.”

The “I AM” wall originated from the ideas of an eighth grade class in Madison, Alabama. It started off as a student project in a language arts class in collaboration with S.E. Hinton’s book The Outsiders and ways to shatter stereotypes in society.

Colored strips of paper were used to define what students are, while black and white pieces of paper were used to describe the stereotypes students had felt had be placed on them by society. The video is inspirational and worth watching!

A similar wall in the video can be found on one of the walls in the Hive. In black capitals is the letters “I-A-M.” Surrounding the letters are colored strips of paper containing diverse thoughts from students and faculty as they answer the difficult question of “I AM…”

This wall is meant for self-expression and an attempt to help shatter societal stereotypes. It allows for people to open up and become honest with themselves and others around them, and to help get rid of insecurities.

While reflecting on the importance of the wall, Jordan reported that a student wrote “If I ask you what you love, the list will go on and on. I love my dog, working with my niece, my girlfriend. I love pizza and fishing. But how long would it take until you said ‘I love myself’?”

Another wrote, “Something as simple as putting together an ‘I AM’ wall and putting it out on social media for the world to see can make the biggest impact, even on just one person”

Jordan also had reported that others had come up to her telling her that the wall was much needed! Claiming the wall was very helpful in allowing students to face fears they had been ignoring in fear of judgement.

On the night the wall was first put up, it had received over 130 slips of paper from Service Leaders and many more have been added since.

So, don’t forget to stop by Hubbard to help stop stereotypes. There are strips of paper and a box and left near the wall. You can either place your own piece of paper onto the wall or you can place it into the box to remain anonymous and Jordan will place it on the wall for you. The wall will only be up in the Hive until Friday, October 10th, so go check it out!

The Everybody Matters campaign will continue with conversations, forums and events including the much anticipating Tunnel of Oppression.

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