South Brunswick Middle School Girls Challenge Others to Find Their Self Worth
The transition from elementary school to middle school can be complicated for students: a new environment, more academic challenges, developmental changes, and of course, peer pressure. Facing all of these new experiences at one time is enough to crush anyone’s confidence—especially young ladies. In our beauty-obsessed culture, it’s common for students at that age to fixate on outward appearances and often connect a person’s looks to their self-worth. But three courageous students entering middle school this year decided to defy that notion by creating The Me Project in the hopes of changing the way students look at themselves, and how they look at others. Aidra Hood, Reagan Phillips, and Rees Osborne are asking peers to focus on what’s inside instead of outside.
When Aidra, Reagan, and Rees started South Brunswick Middle School, they noticed a change in friends they’d grown up with. Sure, middle school is a place where kids start to redefine themselves in a new place and with new people, but the three girls couldn’t help but see that insecurities, low confidence, appearance anxieties, and the desire to fit in began to overshadow students’ self-worth.
After talking with their parents about their concerns, they were challenged to “do something about it.” So they came up with The Me Project.
The Me Project encourages students to really get to know their peers; to look past the assumptions of who they think someone is based on outward appearances. And the project encourages participants to be confident.
Each week Aidra, Reagan, and Rees collect quotes from girls who want to take part. The students can choose one of three different options to fill in the blank: My inner strength is…, What makes me unique is…, and My inner beauty trait is…. The quotes are put into a bucket and five are randomly drawn each week.
“We take a picture of the girls, type up their quotes, and post them on the board,” explains Aidra. “So as students walk through the hallway, they can see the pictures and get to know the girls.”
Morning announcements are another component of The Me Project. After Principle David Ruth leads the Pledge of Allegiance and routine morning reminders over the PA system at the start of school, he turns the mic over to Adria, Reagan, and Rees who bring attention to one of the exceptional girls they selected that week. It’s a motivational start to the day, and a reminder to get to know someone new. Hearing her name read over the morning announcements in middle school might seem intimidating for a middle school student, but that’s one of the best parts about getting to know someone a little bit better.
“Some girls may be shy at first, but for the most part everybody is happy to hear their name,” says Rees.
As these three young women have learned, physical features are just a small part of what makes a person attractive and unique. And that’s the message they want to send to their fellow classmates.
“It makes me feel really good to know that I’ve helped someone feel better about herself,” says Reagan. “As we walk by The Me Project board we can learn things about people we might not know. For instance, one of our really close friends now, if you didn’t get to know her, you wouldn’t know how great a sense of humor she has. We might not know these things about people if we hadn’t done this project.”
The girls have expanded The Me Project to include boys as well. They hope to spread the project to other middles schools, as well as elementary schools in the area.