Teen-to-Teen Letter Writing Event | 5 Ways You Can Help
By: Arabella, Riley’s Way Council Member, The Hewitt School
With the intention of providing support and showing care to other teenagers, on May 2nd the Hewitt School and Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria Riley’s Way Council hosted an event dedicated to writing letters to immigrant teens in a detention center in Homestead, Florida. This year, our Council’s mission is to rectify the harmful misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding immigrants. At our event on May 6th, we had 80 attendees, including students from Girls Inc, who wrote over 100 letters together! With our letters written both in English and Spanish, we learned some foreign translations like “you are not alone” ( “no estas sola” in Spanish), drew designs with colorful markers, talked to each other and bonded, had some good Oreos and pizza, and signed petitions to stop kids from being separated from their parents in detention centers. Most important, we spread the knowledge about the struggles of immigrants, the harsh reality of detention centers, and reflected on it together. We imagined ourselves in the shoes of the young detainees, which demonstrated the empathy that we value at Riley’s Way. I really enjoyed getting to write and design a letter for someone, even when I had no idea exactly who would receive it. I knew it would have an impact in some way, that it could make another kid feel less alone, and feel empowered to remember that they are important, that they are strong, and that they are able to overcome any challenge. Part of kindness in action is putting something thoughtful out into the world, even if you don’t get anything in return. It’s the intention, effort, and care that will be received that speaks to our basic humanity. And with each act of intentional kindness, another is sparked, someone is inspired, someone is smiling, someone is making it through a challenge that they face. Support and empathy go a long way, and I am really proud of the effort that everybody put in during our Teen-to-Teen Letter Writing Event and the commitment they showed to come after school and take action.
By: Paige, Riley’s Way Council Member, The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria
This year, our Riley’s Way Council focused on helping change the perceptions of immigrants in this country. We hosted a letter writing campaign to help motivate teens in the Homestead Detention Center in Florida where over 3,000 are currently being held (when we organized the event the number was 1,700). The teens in this detention center (and all other detention centers) need as much support and help as they can get, and we want them to feel that they are not alone. Children need to be in homes and schools, not in detention centers where they can’t see their family members. Here are 5 ways you can help immigrants who are near and far from you!
Sign a petition from the American Friends Service Committee to close the Homestead Detention Center The Homestead Detention Center is a prison-like facility where children and teens are living separated from their families. In our Council, we believe that this facility should be shut down.
Sign a general petition to close all child detention centers. Even the small amount of time you spend signing this petition could make a big improvement in the negative impacts that these centers are having on these children.
Educate yourself and others about these issues
Call your local congressperson! Don’t know who the congressperson in your area is? Find out here.
Find a local protest or start one of your own! Here are some tips for starting one: