AFH photo by Janna Mach
If you could change one thing in your life....?
Sixteen-year-old Kimberlyn Jones, who attends the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, says that she would like to modify her friends.
Jones says that she wants them to be setting the same goals for themselves as she does.
“I need more friends in my life that say ‘You can do it,’ ” she says.
For Sharon Nguyen, 16, from Boston Latin Academy, it would be an end to discrimination.
Nguyen says she’s faced it for being Asian.
Nguyen says that if people would stop judging each other, then everyone would have more pride.
“When someone talks bad about someone,” Nguyen says, “it makes them not want to share who they are. Too many people are hiding their true identity and potential.”
Fourteen-year-old Robert Isles, from New Mission High School, says he wants to alter his height.
He is five-feet-and-two-inches, he says, and is treated 
differently than taller teens.
“Being short,” he says, “you have to work harder to show people that you can do it.”
This article was prepared in collaboration with 826 Boston.
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Aijanah Sanford / AFH Photo
A competitive drive can blind people to logical reasoning.
Growing up playing soccer, comments to opposing players criticizing their play were as normal to me as tying up the laces of my cleats.
They were meant to get into an opponent’s head. As a varsity athlete now, teasing a rival has become part of the high school experience.
But when individual trash-talking becomes group taunting, things have gone too far.
As they did during a March basketball face-off between Newton North High School -- home to many Jewish students -- and Catholic Memorial School, which is all boys.
That’s when fans on each side sent anti-gay and anti-Semitic slurs back and forth -- for everyone in the stands to hear. Apologies were later offered, teaching moments discussed, and disciplinary action taken.
Players and supporters alike need to know that, even in the heat of the moment, sportsmanship is a big part of the game.
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AFH Artwork
“When we identify one thing as unlike the others, we are dividing the world; we use our language to exclude, to distinguish -- to discriminate.”
-- Legal scholar Martha Minow
Indeed, we use what society and the media put out to determine who we like and don’t like. We put people in boxes. We get so carried away with what is dividing us that we create conflict and jealousy and hate.
Many still believe, for example, that there are certain things only boys can do and certain things only girls can do. If one gender does something not considered “normal,” then they are despised.
People in the LGBTQ community struggle with this despite gaining the freedom to marry one another.
No one is born hating each other. From birth, we are brainwashed by all these rules we are expected to follow, racial and sexual stereotypes we must conform to, class divisions we must uphold -- generation after generation.
I think that accepting someone’s differences is great. After all, that’s how we learn, grow, and better ourselves.
But it’ll take a long time for things to change.
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Cassandra Lattimore / AFH Artwork
Good parents are ones who provide children with love and strong principles and morals. They set limits and raise their kids in ways that will make them be successful.
It’s hard, but crucial, work.
“To parents, we can’t tell our kids to do well in school and then fail to support them when they get home,” President Barack Obama said in 2009 remarks. “You can’t just contract out parenting. 

For our kids to excel, we have to accept our responsibility to help them learn. That means putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour. It means attending those parent-teacher conferences and reading to our children and helping them with their homework.”
A parent’s economic status, culture, traditions, neighborhood, and how long they’ve lived in this country are all factors that can affect the bringing-up of a child and, ultimately, the child’s future.
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AFH artwork by Alicia Pham
Different cultures have different beliefs about when, why, and how to communicate with children. Some, for example, will wait until they feel a child will fully understand before opening a book and reading to them.
I know a woman who never talks to or reads to her son. He is now three years old and already in therapy -- because he cannot speak.
This story from kidshealth.org tells a different tale:
“Jacob loves books. His mom knows this because when she sits down to read to him every night, he waves his arms excitedly.
“His favorite page of ‘Goodnight Moon’ shows a cow jumping over the moon. He squeals and reaches for the book every
time he sees it. When she is done reading, his mom usually lets him hold the sturdy board book, which he promptly sticks into his mouth.
“Jacob is only six months old, but he is already well on his way to becoming a reader.”
According to kidshealth.org, reading aloud to young ones is a critical form of stimulation that:
“Teaches a baby about communication; introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a fun way; builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills; and gives babies information about the world around them.”
Many parents believe that school is the place for learning when, in reality, education starts at home.
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