Henry Haggard is an 8th grader in Tuckahoe Middle School and this is his story of making an impact in his community.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am Henry Haggard, an 8th grader at Tuckahoe Middle School and I do my best to make a difference in my school and my community. I’ve created many programs, such as the Teen Advocacy Group of Richmond (tagrva.com) and the Tuckahoe Spanish Immersion Program (TSIP). Both of these are places for teens to get together.
TAG is for discussing problems in the community, and TSIP for helping ESL students feel comfortable in the school. I also support many other organizations made by other people, ranging from widespread groups such as the ACLU and Heifer International to local groups like Art 180, the Richmond Peace Education Center, and the Youth Justice Coalition.
My work started when I saw the world around me at a point I didn’t want it to reach. I couldn’t let myself watch from the sidelines any longer, so I started to be an active participant. I hope my work, no matter how small, can inspire others to fight twice as hard and make their voices heard in support of the causes they support.
How do you inspire people?
The best mode of inspiration, by far, is action. If someone’s all talk but they haven’t done anything to help out in the world, they aren’t nearly as inspiring as someone who has. By creating programs and fundraisers, I’ve inspired local leaders to fight forward. In times of adversity, inspiration is necessary to make a change. And since change is necessary for inspiration, we need to start with that.
Doing something small can cause a domino effect to get others involved and broaden the impact. By hosting a fundraiser, giving a speech, attending an event, or starting a program, anyone can inspire others to do the same.
What’s your outlook on life?
I’ve been through hard times, where my perfectionism and self-doubt take over. But when I experience this, something good always comes out of it. When no publication would publish an article of mine, I ended up creating my own blog and taking control of my own life.
My outlook on life is this: keep going and keep learning. I am a generally realistic person, but I am also an optimist. The individual is where change starts, so if one person can keep going and keep learning, the whole world can too.
Do you have a motto for everyone to live by?
Yes. It was the end line of my TEDx talk. It was: if we read, write, and if we fight like hell, nothing can stop us. I use this line a lot because I believe it is true. These are the three pillars of my career in action, and it can be used in every lifestyle.
Reading stretches my brain and helps me see different ideas in an interesting format. In fact, I have a map of the world pinned to my bulletin board that I mark every time I read a book from that country. This helps me get the most out of my reading.
In writing, I can express myself. Right now, in my hectic middle school classroom, I am writing these responses to show who I am and what I believe in. Anyone can do the same, especially with today’s technology connecting the entire world together. Writing can be with articles, blogs, journals, books, stories, and pretty much anything you can think of. Writing can create worlds, and without it, we would still be cavemen.
And lastly, fighting like hell. This is determination. Something that keeps each one of us on the path we need to be on, and lifts all of us up to the life we need to live.
How would you change the world?
Changing the world isn’t some grand, dramatic thing. It only takes something small– one step towards a new era. The one tool we all need is determination, and with that, any height can be reached.
The interview took place on 2/6/19