Clarissa Worthington is a freshman in high school in Louisville, Kentucky. She works with her local YMCA’s Youth in Government programs, Academic Team, Go Green Environmental Club, recruitment team, and choir. She does advocacy work with her school and community, and has raised money for the Kentucky YMCA’s scholarship fund. Agha Haider, founder of Postivity + Creativity, talked with her regarding her community service work.
What activism/community service work you have done in the past?
Most of the work I have done is directly with my community. I do a lot of service to my school, but more often, I do outreach service with organizations such as Waterstep, Louisville Grows, Hand and Hand Ministries, etc.
In seventh grade, I had a drive for an organization called Waterstep that takes used shoes, sells them to a distributor, and uses that money to create more sustainable water resources. It also educates the citizens of the communities it is helping on the importance of water hygiene. I’ve worked with Louisville Grows that gets volunteers and citizen foresters together to reforest the struggling parts of my community, increasing the values of each property and making a greener community. I’ve also worked with Hand and Hand by cleaning my community’s parks, and I’ve worked with Kentucky Refugee Ministries to ensure every citizen in our community feels welcomed and has the supplies to live a healthy, happy life.
For activism, I’m incredibly involved with my community’s YMCA youth in government programs. I presided as Secretary General at my Model United Nations where I raised around $350 for students all through out my state to have opportunities to have a voice, feel empowered to change the world, and meet the people who can help them on their journey.
Why did you decide to do this work?
Initially, it was a necessity. For me, I had to check off the certain number of service hours for school, but as I continued on my service journey, I felt it was the best way to channel my passions into tangible change. I saw the trees planted and saw that that one tree may be small in comparison to the full population of my city, but that one tree affected everyone around it. Ultimately, that tree would add to more trees, and it would play a piece in a giant change in my community.
Who do you look up to?
As a complete nerd, I have a bit of an obsession with the United Nations. I really look up to the Secretary General, António Guterres, but even more, the Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohammed, is an inspiration because she is an incredible speaker. She also is an incredible proponent of protecting the environment.Also, I am very passionate about politics, and while I cannot say I am in support of everything past president Barack Obama did, his work is undeniable and insanely impactful. The Affordable Care Act protected those who couldn’t protect themselves, and he was always a vocal advocate for feminism and LGBT+ rights. Plus, I really think he would be so fun to just get a nice cup of coffee with.
What do you hope to accomplish through your work?
My dream is to be able to change the world or at least someone’s world by inspiring a future generation of advocates. I just hope that with my work and the work of many others, the assumption that our generation is lazy and self-obsessed will be destroyed. Our generation is the most diverse and creative, and I just hope together we can create equality for all and change for those who are hungry, thirsty, or dying because of preventable illness.
How has this changed your life?
One of my jobs as the Secretary General of my Model United Nations was to choose a resolution to be debated in front of everyone at the conference. There was one resolution that was so well-crafted, and the lead speaker was so prepared. I knew this resolution was the one to present to the conference.
Before the resolution was presented, I learned that the lead speaker lived in terrible poverty and barely had the opportunity to be at our conference, save for the scholarship fund. To see his passion up on stage defending his resolution, I knew he deserved, above all people, to be at the front stage. After the conference, he came up to me and thanked me for the opportunity to speak. To know that this kid, who barely made it to this conference because of his situation at home, won an award for best speaker and had his resolution passed at the highest levels. That’s what makes me do it. Now I know that kid will return to that conference, and I’m so lucky to know this.
Even if I am only changing the world of one person, just changing one person’s life means that the work I’m doing is worth it. Service and activism may be focused on external growth (planting a tree, choosing someone to speak at the front of the conference, etc.), but it will always be focused on the internal growth I experience every time I do it. I guess what I’m trying to say is the change outside makes me change inside.
You can follow Clarissa on her Instagram: @clarissaworthington