Carman Ainsworth students empowered, find voice with Activism Day

Published: May. 9, 2019 at 5:20 PM EDT
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(5/9/2019) - At Carman Ainsworth High School, in Flint Township, a group of seniors spent their final semester researching a topic they're passionate about.

Thursday, they presented and defended the facts they found.

"They are 8 times more likely to commit suicide. They're 6 times more likely to have high levels of depression. It's actually scientifically proven not to work," senior Wyatt Duford explained.

He chose to focus on conversion therapy, an effort to change a person's sexual orientation.

"I'm gay myself, so it means a lot to me," he said. "There's no other class really where I've talked about activism, and like, being active in our community. I think that's really empowering me to be able to do that."

Teenagers bringing attention to real world issues many people aren't talking about. Their projects covered a multitude of topics, including sexual assault, animal cruelty, gun safety and should college athletes be paid?

"They make so much money for a college, to get nothing? I mean they get their education paid for and stuff like that, but that's about it," senior Ro McCree explained.

His project was pretty popular with the visitors Thursday. He had a lot of challengers eager to hear his research.

"They have to have data, they have to have personal examples, they have to support and inform the public," teacher Jessyca Mathews said. "Not argue with the public, we have enough arguments going on as it is."

Mathews created the class to give her students a voice.

With the internet at their fingertips, she said it was important to focus on teaching them how to find unbiased material.

"I think the most important thing for kids to do is change the world," she said. "We can do all the different subjects that we have; but if they're not productive citizens who can have genuine conversations and can't find information on their own, then there's no point of doing what I do."

The semester has been filled with life-changing lessons the students are grateful for.

"It's making us be better, like to do it on our own, like 'cause she'll help us; but she's not gonna just sit there and be over my shoulder, nothing like that. It's just helping us be mature," McCree added.