Bella B. is a 5th grader from Frankfort, Kentucky. She loves the color purple, social studies, and Barkley, her English Bulldog that “has tons of wrinkles that make him so ugly he is cute.”
Bella is also an international PenPal and local celebrity. After participating in the PenPal Schools Holidays & Festivals of the World project, she was inspired to invent her own holiday: Everybody Matters Day!
Bella and four PenPals spent three weeks exploring holiday traditions and celebrations around the world. They learned about religious and secular holidays celebrated in international communities by watching videos and reading articles. Bella and her PenPals then discussed how foreign traditions compare to their traditions at home.
“My favorite part of the PenPal project is that I got to communicate and share my thoughts with other kids in different locations. It made me feel like what I think and say is important and I feel like my opinion is valued.”
The final assignment in Holidays & Festivals of the World asks students to invent a new holiday. After inventing a holiday and sharing her work with her PenPals, Bella wanted to take the assignment one step further. Her global experience inspired her to make her holiday a reality and make her local community a kinder place on February 14th. As her PenPal project came to an end, Everybody Matters Day was born.
“We’re trying to change the way people look at Valentine’s day. Either, great, you’re in a relationship and this day is for you, or you’re not and this day isn’t for you. Everybody matters, and we want all students to receive a kind note from someone in their class.”
Bella asked around her community for advice on how to officially create a holiday. She eventually found Mayor May’s email online and decided that contacting him would be the best approach - this was Bella's first time using email!
“I was so scared to send that email. I read it like a million times because I’m a perfectionist. My classmates were like, ‘What are you doing?’ I was just so nervous sending it.”
Mayor May responded to the email saying that he wanted to meet with her. Bella put together a list of talking points and trudged through the snow with her teacher and parents to meet the mayor on the big day.
“My mom told me to pretend like you’re talking to your friend, a normal conversation. I felt like I said ‘um’ a lot, but I hit every point! I was so proud of myself! Not to toot my own horn, but I was!”
Since that momentous meeting, Bella and her classmates at Hearn Elementary have been busy preparing for Everybody Matters Day. Students from neighboring schools heard about their efforts, and also wrote letters of support to the mayor! This week, the mayor signed a proclamation officially declaring February 14th Everybody Matters Day. We hope you’ll join Bella and the community of Frankfort, KY by celebrating Everybody Matters Day in your school, too!
It’s easy to participate in Everybody Matters Day! Here’s how you and your students can join in on the festivities:
Global learning leads to local action, and local action can spread around the globe. We are so proud of Bella and hope that your classroom will celebrate Everybody Matters Day with us! You can also enroll your class in the Holidays & Festivals of the World project. Who knows, maybe one of your students will create a holiday too!
UPDATE: Schools across the USA and around the world participated in #EverybodyMattersDay! Here are some photos and videos from students around the world - from South Korea, to Lithuania, to California - celebrating the people who matter to them.