Tag Archives: bravery

NCCJ announces Caleb Wilkie of Westfield as the 2012 Western Massachusetts Youth Human Relations Award Winner

10 Mar

The National Conference for Community and Justice is proud to announce Caleb Wilkie of Westfield High School as the recipient of NCCJ’s 2012 Western Massachusetts Youth Human Relations Award.  Caleb is 16, a junior at Westfield High School, and has earned this award for his courage in action as well as his relentless leadership in making his school a safe place for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) youth through education and advocacy.

Caleb attended NCCJ’s premier social justice program, ANYTOWN, after finishing 8th grade.  Upon entering 9th grade at Westfield High, he immediately approached his guidance counselor, Alison Kelly, to talk about what he can do to bring what he learned at ANYTOWN back to his school.  He had just come out as gay to his family and friends (read his poignant story here), and immediately felt the prejudices of many around him.  He realized that the only way these prejudices can be changed is through education.  He led by example and allowed himself to be open about his experience and his struggle with coming out.  He bravely faced name-calling with kindness by allowing others to ask him questions, and seeing every act of cruelty as an opportunity to make someone an ally.

He joined the Gay Straight Alliance and recently became the President.  He organized a “teach-in” for Westfield High School faculty to learn more about the LGBT community and to teach them how to be effective allies.  He talked with the history department to include LGBT Rights Movements as part of the history curriculum.  He played an integral role in organizing Westfield’s first annual “A Mile in Your Shoes: A Walk for Change” that raised over $3,000 for the Kinship Fund. He convinced his school administration to bring NCCJ’s BRIDGES program to Westfield High three years in a row and as a result gained 75 peer allies committed to fighting prejudice at the school. Caleb also continues to be involved in various NCCJ programs.  He has been a counselor at the ANYTOWN program, was a speaker at The YES! Campaign Conference where he bravely shared his experience of being bullied in front of 400 youth, and has co-facilitated various workshops.

Caleb is truly a rock star and continues to inspire his peers and us with his leadership.  He embodies Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching of “be the change you wish to see in the world.”  We are so proud of his accomplishments and are excited to celebrate him at the 2012 NCCJ Human Relations Awards Banquet on June 12th at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

To celebrate Caleb at the 2012 Human Relations Award Banquet contact GiGi Paolantonio at 860-683-1039 ext. 105 or gpaolantonio@nccj.org.

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