August 9, 2012
I went to the ANYTOWN camp provided by Community Tampa Bay and my entire perspective on my community was changed. Before I attended, I was set on going to a college out of state and "escaping" Tampa, because I felt like I didn't want anything to with a community I was out of touch with. But now I realize the best way to like where you live is have a hand in building it up; I am now looking for schools in state so that I can try to do volunteer work, hopefully with Community Tampa Bay, and make a discrimination free society (*all* forms of discrimination) for everyone to live in, because I am a leader of today, not just tomorrow. It was tough, at first, because I myself held very rash and sometimes very wrong prejudices about changing society. I went in with a mentality of "I'd like to, but I can't; who would listen?" But ANYTOWN links you to kids just like you who want the same thing, and it solves half the problem right there, because instantly you have sixty other people to work with you and these sixty people do, in fact, care enough to listen. Among other things, during this week of workshops, my group learned about discrimination, prejudices, and how it starts with just an idea that then becomes a stereotype; we learned to suspend our disbelief and place ourselves in others' shoes. In one very memorable activity, we were shown how socially-influenced gender roles affect both males and females, and in another we were all given fake disabilities and had to learn to live with them. In only a couple days, a group of teens had their mindsets change from the average teen to those who truly believe in their community.
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