By Mia Miller
Williamsville East has dozens of different clubs and programs students can choose to get involved in. One of these programs is Challenge to Change, a program that exists in all three Williamsville schools as well as several other Western New York high schools.
Challenge to Change is a program designed to help spread awareness of a variety of social justice issues to high school students, and students discuss ways in which they think they can help with these issues and reflect on ways these issues have affected our community. Challenge to Change’s co-advisor, social worker Mrs. Taberski, has taken the time to answer some questions about the program.
“The overall mission of the program itself is basically to bring awareness to social justice issues, and that could be everything from what we currently see in our school culture, but also at a macro level in terms of being aware of current events and what’s going on in our area, our state, our country, and across the world,” Mrs Taberski said when asked to explain what the program is all about. “What’s really neat about the program is I think it’s a little bit different from a typical club, we do have a lot of fun and we have some really great conversations, but there seems to be more, I wouldn’t say pressure exactly, but it’s really important work that we’re doing, I would say”.
“Really (the students) are tasked with coming up with initiatives and different ways to communicate the message and kind of spread the message out into the community. So it’s really student led, its student driven” Mrs Taberski described.
Students who care about social justice issues, enjoy group discussions and problem solving, and are willing to take an initiative in their community may be the most likely to be interested in joining the program. Mrs Taberski said, “The type of students we find are a good fit for Challenge to Change, students can certainly express interest in getting involved but typically we invite students. So students are recognized and nominated based on their leadership skills and based on their passion for social justice issues.”
Recently, Challenge to Change students recorded themselves reading books to show to students at Country Parkway Elementary. Books were chosen based on how well they show and illustrate diversity in races, religions, and other aspects.
Mrs Taberski elaborated and described their involvement in the event, “Our most recent event we have been a part of is we joined with Country Parkway, one of our feeder elementary schools. They have PARP week (pick a reading partner week), and they had asked ‘are there any high school students who would like to get involved’, so we put it out there to Challenge to Change and I have to say I am so impressed and so thrilled with the outcome. We had asked out students to volunteer and say if they would be interested in recording themselves reading a book to be shared with the students and staff and parents at Country Parkway. They read these books that were provided by Country Parkway.”
Challenge to Change does an important job for our community, which is spreading awareness to issues that many may look over. Anyone who is passionate about social justice issues is welcome to express their interest to an advisor or member of the program, such as Mrs. Taberski.