Impact

Courageous Class Spotlight: Back-to-School Edition

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The Courageous Class are determined individuals who confidently overcome life’s challenges to become inspiring role models. This month, in honor of heading back to school, we’re highlighting three people fighting to improve education.

Lia Salvatierra
Bring Change 2 Mind Youth Ambassador

Bring Change 2 Mind is a non-profit organization working to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.


What do you want to share with the world regarding youth and education?

Young people need to be educated in a way that helps them prepare for issues prevalent in our everyday lives. Regular schooling is rarely applied to real-world problems in a way that gets youth involved in creating change. Education needs to help make younger generations aware of these issues and inspire them to get involved.

What people and/or events inspired you to do the work that you do today?

My father passed away from mental illness, without my even knowing he was dealing with the disease. My mom truly experienced the taboo around it, as his caretaker during the experience. She was the one who initially inspired my spirit of awareness around this topic. My passion for mental health awareness stemmed from that, and it keeps getting stronger. My main goals are to try to alleviate the pain of stigma, and really just make the people in my life aware of this huge topic. There is so much ignorance around it because it is so taboo—we need to change that! That’s why I am a leader of a LETS Bring Change 2 Mind (LETS BC2M) Club at my high school. I work with many students to put on events that educate my peers and get the school talking about mental health.

What is some advice you have for people trying courageously to change the world?

I think that the world needs so many people to be passionate about change, in so many different areas. It’s important to really find something that applies to your life. For me, it was organizing events around mental health and telling my story. It brings different people together and allows me to share my thoughts with a large group. As long as you care about an issue, anything you do to help matters.

Dinh Chau-Kieckhafer
Director/Founder, ThinkArt!

Think Art! is a non-profit organization committed to promoting art, culture, education, and improving communities through effective action and hands-on programs.


What do you want to share with the world regarding youth and education?

As the world becomes more interconnected via technology and social media, I would like to remind our young people to take a moment to look away from their electronic devices—to see the world with a naked eye and take in the beauty that surrounds us. I like to remind everyone that technology helps make our lives easier, but the arts feed our souls. Don’t live so much in your head that you become disconnected from your heart. Without art, there is no heart.

What people and/or events inspired you to do the work that you do today?

Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss both inspired and motivated me to pursue my dream. To me, Disneyland is not simply a theme park—it’s a place that inspires people to make their dreams a reality. Disneyland was developed with creativity and imagination and is truly the one place on earth that demonstrates the stubbornness of artistry. Dr. Seuss is by far my favorite children’s book author. I enjoy the complexity of his work and the illustrations. He takes ordinary themes and turns them into something extravagant with his words and with his art. His books help me to see the world in a different way. Walt Disney and Dr. Seuss give me hope that I too can change the world by simply being creative, having the courage to dream and using my art to make the world a place where creativity can grow.

Robt Seda-Schreiber
Teacher of the Year and Champion of Equality

Robt Seda-Schreiber has been an art and theatre teacher at Melvin H. Kreps Middle School in East Windsor, NJ for nearly twenty-five years.


What do you want to share with the world regarding youth and education?

Education is the cornerstone of any great civilization and the very fabric of our culture, no doubt, no diggity. Each and every one of us, should learn, grow and expand our horizons each and every day, and teachers are a small but integral part of that process. We all need to teach each other to learn from each other and be open to new ideas. A good teacher is a great learner and a great learner is a good teacher.

What people and/or events inspired you to do the work that you do today? 

My wonderful folks showed me the path, my lovely bride holds my hand as I walk it, and my talented son shows me the horizon. My parents taught me love and respect for all, my wife helps me put it into practice, and my boy carries it upward and onward. I have always been inspired by those who speak out and allow others to rise up within their own communities. When one group overcomes injustice and inequality, it is a victory for us all. Whether it be MLK, Gandhi, Harvey Milk, Dolores Huerta, Muhammad Ali, Keith Haring, Kurt Vonnegut, or David Letterman, these men and women were true to themselves and true to their communities. They inspire all of us to be the best that we can be. Finally, much respect and love to my administration, my colleagues, my students and the community at large in which I work. This oh-so-supportive crew have been nothing but encouraging throughout the years and I truly couldn’t do what I do without them.

What is some advice you have for people trying courageously to change the world?

Don’t ever, ever make someone feel wrong or shamed for who they are or who they love; for the color of their skin or the texture of their hair; for the language they speak or the religion they practice (or indeed the lack thereof); for the ideas they hold dear or the lives they choose to lead. And don’t ever, ever stand idly by and let anyone else do so. Remember light will always dispel the darkness and love does indeed trump hate. The world can and will change—it’s entirely up to you whether you want to watch it happen or be the one who makes it happen. Last but not least, as my man Chuck D would say, “Fight the Power. Fight the powers that be!”