Embracing Differences

By Sofija Chroneos

Boston University students Becca Reynolds and Aaryn Clerk partnered with St. Stephen’s Youth Programs to create an empowering afterschool curriculum. Aaryn and Becca met with 20 children (ages 9-13) once a week for five weeks to provide lessons on identity, both social and personal. The program strived to acquaint students with topics on race, ability, gender and sexuality.

Finding a home in music education

Each session focused on one of the latter topics through warm-up activities and group discussion. The introductory session was a generalized discussion on identity, with an “identity wheel activity” which offered students space to describe their values and aspirations. From ethnicity and religion to talents and interests, the students were encouraged to think about their identities in a meaningful way.

The second session discussed race, including the cyclical nature of privilege and oppression in society. According to Becca, the kids brought a surprising combination of innocence and awareness to the lesson. Despite their youth, the students were able to connect each lesson to real-life, often with a focus on the current political climate.

The lessons defined and explained identities relating to gender and sexuality. Students experimented with using ungendered pronouns, such as they/them. The students were then divided into groups to discuss gender roles and body image.

Next, the lesson addressed abilities. Becca and Aaryn hope the lessons spread awareness and sparked conversations on gender. The program helped students find compassion for all. “The students can challenge norms and change their communities and world,” said Aaryn. “They’re young but their voices matter.” In Voices, we believe individuals must unite to accept difference.


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