Changing My World

November 16, 2022

By Maddy Fratis

Madilyn Fratis (she/her) is a National Stamps Scholar at Elizabethtown College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania interning with Born This Way Foundation’s Communications Team. As a major in Public Relations with minors in Political Science and Spanish, she integrates passions for social justice and helping others into her studies. She has co-founded Stand Together Against Racism, a youth-led initiative to combat racism through education and dialogue, and developed the organization’s podcast titled, The Powerful Youth Perspective. 

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Maddy (right) and Executive Director of VOiCEup Berks, Christi Terefenko (left)

I don’t know if I can change the world. That’s not to say I’m not endlessly grateful to all the inspiring people in my life who have empowered me to do so, it’s just a little hard to believe (at least right now). But I do believe I can help change my world, consisting of the community I grew up in and the new places I adventure to. I can proudly say this because I’ve seen the beginnings of positive social change thanks to a village of friends, family, community members, and even strangers. 

A group of young change-makers took initiative in 2020 when it seemed the rest of our community was silent. Being surrounded by injustice and hate was no way to live, but my peers and I collectively had enough hope and courage to take a stance.

What has come in the two short years since is nothing short of incredible. Our mission to actively fight for justice using education and dialogue spread like a wildfire. We founded an initiative named, Stand Together Against Racism, (STAR). Executing multiple in-person and virtual programs reaching kindergarteners to adults, a podcast, social media presence, and website all student-led took lots of teamwork. Often failing once or twice but always trying again, we gained traction and created a movement. 

Adults that support our mission often tell us to keep fighting, that we are the future, and to never lose hope. These sparks of inspiration often leave me wondering why the adults have stopped fighting or lost hope? Maybe it is because it is easier to pass the trauma, pass the wrongdoings, pass the work along to the next generation. To me, all that matters is that I have been given the opportunity to help make change. More importantly, is the opportunity to inspire other young people to create sustainable solutions for social justice issues with us…and because of that I am hopeful, I am energetic, I am ready. 

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