FARMINGTON — Thirteen-year-old Andrea Jones has a mission.
The Wilton teen wants her peers and others to have the freedom to be who they are without repercussions from others. Jones is planning to establish a group at Mt. Blue Middle School to address being yourself and teaching fellow students how to be active bystanders.
“I feel that everybody is different. I feel everybody has the right to learn the way they want to and be who they want to be,” Jones said Friday.
She recently helped students at Cascade Brook School in Farmington with their Civil Rights Team. She has been a civil rights advocate since fourth grade. She created a keynote presentation on the three D’s, which are steps to prevent bullying and to be an active bystander, Jones said.
The first D stands for direct. That’s when a person tells a bully what they are doing is wrong and makes an effort to stop the behavior, she said.
The second D stands for delegate. That’s when a person tells a teacher or another adult about the bullying situation and seeks to help the victim.
The third D is for distract.
“I think this one is the easiest because you just distract either the bully or the victim,” Jones said.
“We’re all bystanders. A lot of the time we don’t know what to do,” she said, referring to those who witness bullying behavior.
“Kids are not very nice when you are different. I noticed that and it’s just amazing,” Jones said. “I don’t think they realize this person is the same as you and they won’t accept you for who you are. People should just realize you are beautiful for being who you are.”
She and other students watched the movie “Pay It Forward,” based on the networking of good deeds and paying a favor forward. In the movie, a boy launches a good-will movement.
Jones and peers in the Katahdin community at the middle school were given an assignment to do a philanthropy project.
The first project she worked on didn’t work, she said.
The philanthropy project she is working on now is to create a civil rights team.
She has learned from educators that there was a team at the school but students lost interest in it. So she is trying to create a similar team with a new name.
She typed in kindness club into a thesaurus and came up with different names, including a generosity league.
Jones said such a team could do some projects in the community based on being an active bystander.
This would help her school, she said, and educate peers on how to accept each other.
“I think I’m going to test drive my philanthropy project in my own community first,” she said since all of them have the same recess.
“My next move is to educate my peers about my philanthropy project and what it is going to be,” Jones said. “I am almost positive I will have success with this because I have a lot of kind friends and kind peers that would willing to help me with this.”
She is hoping to start the project after Christmas vacation within her own sub-community.
She has created another keynote presentation she wants to demonstrate to fellow students.
“From there it’s just going to be a matter of motivating my peers,” Jones said. “I’m going to try and inspire my peers and I’m going to let them have the freedom to make decisions to decide what the program will be and how it will work. I hope they are going to be as committed to this as I am.”