Hey girl...you inspire us to be our strongest self(ie)!
Name: Naomi Alintoff & Sophia Deno
Age: 13 and 10
State: New Jersey
Tell us about a time when you felt like your strongest self(ie).
Despite being different ages (13 and 10), we both found ourselves witnessing a great deal of negativity and unkindness in the world around us. In an effort to combat that unkindness (and without creating additional conflict) we decided to start a kindness movement. Since we wanted to reach a wide audience knowing that a lot people of all ages deal with similar negativity, we launched an Instagram page to share positivity and encourage others to share their stories of kindness as well. We wanted to create a space where it's cool to be kind. We call it @Connecting_Kindness.
Creating this movement makes us feel like our strongest self(ies) because we are not only engaging in random, but intentional acts of kindness, but also encouraging others to be kind, and in turn creating a ripple effect of kindness. When people are surrounded by kindness, they have the greatest opportunity to be their best self(ie).
STRONG girls lift other girls up. What have you done to lift someone up?
Naomi – A friend was undergoing treatment for cancer (neuroblastoma). She needed to travel from her home in Utah all the way to New York City to receive life saving treatment that was only available at one NYC hospital. Each time she would come to New York for treatment, I would take the day off school and visit her. Sometimes we would see a show or go to dinner and other times we would play games at Ronald McDonald House. Just being together was what was important. I’m happy to report that the treatment worked and my friend is now cancer free!
Sophia – A friend of mine, who is also 10 years old, suddenly lost her mom earlier this year. I have spent many weekends together with this family who was always so kind to include me in their outings to NYC, trips to the trampoline center, and pizza dinners. When my friend's mom passed away, I wanted to do something special for my friend to know she is loved and to remind her that her mom is always with her. I gave her a special red necklace and bracelet, because red was her moms favorite color. We spend many moments now smiling and sharing stories about her mom to continue to celebrate life.
Tell us how you are involved in your community and what you are doing to #strikeyourstrongselfie.
We decorated winter hats and gloves and placed them outside in the middle of the winter, so people who were cold had a way to warm up. We also hand out kindness cards that we created. When we witness someone being kind, we give them a kindness card and ask them to pass it on when they witness kindness.
Naomi – I am an ambassador for The Tyler Robinson Foundation (TRF), a pediatric cancer charity that was founded by the rock band, Imagine Dragons and the Robinson Family after 16 year old, Tyler Robinson passed away from cancer. As a TRF ambassador, I raise money for TRF and also raise awareness about their mission to help families battle the unforeseen costs of childhood cancer. I volunteer at events and take every opportunity to teach others about the financial impact of childhood cancer and the importance of helping these families.
Sophia – I am actively involved with kids who have special needs. I eat lunch daily with the special needs children at my school, make them special cards on holidays, and spend time talking about things that are important to them. I am serving as a "Buddy" at my town's Unified Games this year, which is a dedicated event for special needs children to play soccer and do yoga at a local park. I feel this is a way to #strikeherstrongselfie because all children need a friend with no strings attached. I can be that friend to them!
What do you like to do in your free time?
We spend most of their time competitively dancing.
Naomi – When I am not at school or at dance, I like to spend time with my friends, listen to music and volunteer with TRF.
Sophia – When I am not at dance or school I enjoy learning how to speak in different dialects, taking voice lessons, acting and watching videos of successful dancers I aspire to be.
Do you have a positive saying or quote you would like to share with the STRONG self(ie) community?
There are opportunities to be kind all around us. Recognize them. Seize them. Give it all you've got. You can change the course of somebody's day.
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Name: Nandi Weziwe Hildebrand
What does strong mean to you? How do you embrace and represent strength?
Naturally I’m quiet, reserved and observant. Because of this I like to think my strength comes from a place of mindfulness and peaceful intentions. To me strength comes when we can embrace fearful situations, and not let them control us. It is accepting what is and forging ahead as best we can with what we’ve got. It means that we know intuitively when to be the bigger person and not engage with people who are not being reasonable. I honestly don’t think we need to be superman or superwoman to be considered a strong person. We just need to be willing to walk an authentic path in our lives knowing that we are capable of anything, that we are all powerful beyond measure and that no matter what happens to us in life, we will always at the end of the day, be okay.
What is your passion? How has this shaped you into a strong girl?
Every person has a story that makes them who they are. As for me my passion comes from my life stories. For as long as I remember I’ve always been a misfit, lone wolf, outsider, and different. Although I would like to say it never bothers me, the truth is it sometimes does. Because of this I’ve learnt to be resilient by turning my experiences into creative fuel. Fortunately I’m raised by parents who celebrate uniqueness and are opposed to intolerance and injustice. They constantly remind me that “If you are neutral in situations of injustice you’ve chosen the side of the oppressor.” I was introduced into activism at an earlier age and because of this and my bullying experience I was drawn into understanding and learning more about “bullying.” This topic soon became my passion and I decided to start a club / movement where kids empower each other by organizing and developing leadership skills to prevent bullying. So when I’m asked what shaped me to be the person that I am today, it’s quite simply - my life and experiences.
Are you involved with any charities? If yes, how did you choose which one(s) to be involved with and what are your responsibilities?
Nandi’s Anti-Bullying Youth Club is the charity that I started last year. Again, the club is drawn from my experience and my life story. I was born in Maryland to an African mother (Zulu tribe) and a Caucasian father but moved to South Africa when I was 2 months to live with my grandparents. I returned to the US from South Africa when I was 7 years old and attended a school in Southern California. My accent, puffy hair, lack of knowledge about the popular culture resulted in me being identified as “different” by my peers, and I became a target of bullying. Many students didn't want to associate with me. During lunch break, hardly anyone would sit next to me because they were afraid that I might "contaminate" them with an "African disease." There is a lot more to my bullying experiences... but the good thing is that these experiences motivated me to unite with as many kids as I can so that together we can protect others by stopping the torment. We need to show them that they're innocent in this game of life and that they DO MATTER. My responsibility is to spread awareness by bringing the message to a larger audience. My vision is to combat bullying with love by looking at the person next to you and try to understand their story and by inviting my peers to be the generation that can change the world in unison, one step at a time.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Ballet and reading whether it's fiction or nonfiction. My parents are very scholarly and so I grew up surrounded by books. Books help introduce one to new characters, new environments, new cultures, new philosophies. Other than that I have discovered photography and music is my escape. My dad has such a sophisticated taste in music I think I take after him (I hope :-)
Do you have a positive saying or quote you would like to share with the STRONG self(ie) community? What made you choose this particular quote?
Steve Jobs: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinion drown your own inner voice.” You have to know who you are and what you want to be – and vigorously pursue that. It’s not about pleasing everyone, it’s not about being loved; it’s about accomplishing goals.