Staying and working from home has now become an important part of our daily routines.
For one teen, having to stay home has meant getting to help those she assists even more.
Mackenzie Hill, 15, is an integral part of multiple nonprofits, which were all started with one goal in mind: to teach others about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) and how you can use it for change.
“I am the Southeast Regional Director for Steam.on, a curriculum developer for GirlsGotSteam, an outreach team member for CleanerOceansInstitute, and I am a contributor for iFeminist,” Mackenzie said. “My work with Steam.on consists of recruiting members in my area, being involved with creating chapter guides, and a lot more projects that are in the works! I work with GirlsGotSteam to create free lesson plans for low-income communities and educators, my first lesson plan with them ‘Fun with Finance’ is up on their website. I work with CleanerOceansInstitute to recruit new members and reach out to organizations for collaborations. At iFeminist I write research projects about underrepresented women in history. I am also in the process of getting a chapter of Student Art Spaces, which hosts low-cost or free art galleries for young artists, opened up in Alabama.”
Several physical events have been cancelled in the past weeks, but that’s not stopping Mackenzie.
“We have adjusted our physical workshops to either online formats or rescheduled them entirely. GirlsGotSteam would typically host workshops in partnership with schools and educators in Florida, but even with those being cancelled, our lesson plans are still accessible and free to use!”
Mackenzie reported that normally Student Art Spaces would be hosting art galleries that are low cost or free for young artists, but with the circumstances, those have had to be rescheduled.
“Chapters of Student Art Spaces have gotten creative by hosting online art galleries and creating zines,” she said. “At CleanerOceansInstitute we created a compilation of videos of sunsets, flowers, the ocean, etc. As a way of appreciating what we have to look forward to once quarantine is over. A lot of us have been using this time to come back even stronger after quarantine with exciting new projects and opportunities!”
With the current situation, Mackenzie knows the work she’s doing is important and beyond rewarding.
“Seeing our hard work come to fruition when a lesson plan, post, or article is released is a wonderful feeling, but it is purely indescribable seeing our work impact and empower people all over the world! I always think that even if I only impact one singular person then I have done more than I can hope for. It means so much knowing that our hard work can change someone’s life. It is rewarding having a purpose outside of ourselves and being able to use our skills and strengths to bring people together.”
She continued, “We hope they get a sense of self out of learning something new and leave feeling confident that they can achieve anything they desire with enough hard work and support. Our goal is to inspire our students to be change-makers and leaders while creating more diverse spaces. At the very least I hope our students leave feeling like they have a community of people behind them who will support them as much as we can!”
Additionally, Mackenzie realizes the kindness that can come out of the projects and the work she does.
“STEAM can be used as a way to bring communities together and help us realize we aren’t so different after all,” she said. “STEAM not only has the ability to facilitate kindness through connection, for example, social media, but also by giving a space where we can uplift others and learn how to be our best selves. STEAM is a part of every aspect of our lives so by using it for compassion, positivity, and empathy, we have already made a significant difference.”
She added, “STEAM has completely changed my life in many ways, but most importantly, STEAM though challenging at times, has taught me that I am not alone and it has given me a sense of self and community. STEAM has allowed me to find the most incredible people that I could ever imagine and use my voice to empower others.”
Mackenzie hopes those thinking of helping in a way that she has will go for it.
“I would say if you have a passion for something, work off of that passion and run with it! When things get busy and stressful, I feel aligned in the fact that I am contributing to something bigger than myself. Also, starting a project is the hardest part of the process and waiting for some sign to tell you that the work you want to do is important isn’t the most constructive method, just get out there and work towards whatever it is that you’re passionate about and don’t let fear control you!”