Episode #6: Bella from Los Angeles, CA

Episode #6: Bella from Los Angeles, CA

00:24:17
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About this episode

(0:55) What is EnlightGenment?

Along with a couple of friends, Bella founded the nonprofit EnlightGenment to give young activists a platform to talk about issues that aren't widely discussed, such as the beauty standard and immigration.

(1:51) How did your school support you?

Bella and her friends started the movement on their own but then decided to make it a club within her school. Her school has lots of opportunities for students to participate in clubs as well as to form new ones.

(2:40) The harmful impact of unrealistic TV that targets teenagers

Bella shares that having adults play roles as teenagers is unrealistic and potentially harmful to teens because it glamorizes problems like drug addiction and dating violence. Bella felt like her school didn’t prioritize talking to students about the potential problems with this so she decided to create a platform to talk about issues like these.

(4:58) “Teachers need to be more open with their students.”

At Bella’s school she says that teachers are very personable and care about their students. She expresses gratitude and says that it’s not like that at other schools. In some schools, students are just people who come through the door and teachers don’t build relationships with them. Bella says that not only does having supportive teachers help her do better academically, but she thinks that it will help her develop positive relationships later on in life.

(6:04) Being intentional about highlighting student success matters

Teachers pointing out her strengths and giving her guidance has made a big difference in her life. She really likes getting to know her teachers. Kids really need validation from their teachers.

(7:24) What learning is like at Bella’s school

The school and the teachers offer a lot of programs and projects that encourage students to be open minded. Students feel seen and heard when they are allowed to openly express their opinions. Kids want to be heard. Growing up isn’t just about your age, but about maturity. Teachers at Bella’s school really allow students to formulate their own opinions and express them freely through facilitation of class discussions where they leave it up to students to decide what they think is right.

(10:12) What’s next for your organization EnlightGenment?

Growing the platform and inviting more students to participate is the primary goal right now. The members recently competed in the Believe Intellect Competition and became finalists. They plan to do more service projects in their communities like visiting the local children’s hospital, serving meals to the homeless and volunteering for the American Heart Association.

(11:10) A passion for service and activism

Bella has an innate desire to help her community, especially her generation so they can grow into a better society as a whole. She wants to be a lawyer and work directly with the community.

(12:08) What Gen Z needs

Older generations seem unwilling to accept that the world is changing and are defensive when Gen Z’s speak up about it and say, “This is something that you cannot change.” Bella implores older generations to give everyone the respect they deserve no matter their identity. Everyone’s opinions are relevant regardless of age. Bella is fighting for young people to be heard now, not when they “grow up.” Gen Z is a more open minded generation and is willing to talk about issues like gender identity and mental health.

(15:50) On the pandemic

Gen Z had a lot of time during the pandemic to think about social issues and talk about them out in the open.

(19:23) What teachers need to hear

Students want specific feedback and guidance, not just a pat on the back. Bella attributes a lot of her success to her strong relationships with her teachers and the supportive environment they have created for learning and growing. Bella says students need to be taken seriously regardless of their age. Be authentic with your students and find ways to connect with them.