Leaving Behind Our Senior Legacy
Good evening, everyone! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Paige Adams, and I am a recently-graduated senior from Oxbridge Academy. I am attending Vanderbilt University in the fall and hope to double major in journalism and photojournalism and use a study abroad session in Western Europe to begin my journey obtaining different perspectives of body image in the international fashion world.
If I hadn’t been fortunate enough to become a member of Women Making Waves and the Stand UP Foundation two years ago, I definitely wouldn’t have my future planned out as such. This is one of the many things I love about the organization; it takes kids and fosters their emotional growth, which in turn, does something remarkable. It encourages them to discover their own passions and educates them on developing and maintaining a healthy mind and a healthy life. It teaches kids that they are smart, they are kind, they are beautiful, and they are uniquely perfect. This is exactly what Women Making Waves has done for me, and it wouldn’t be what it is without our incredible members, so for that I thank you all- girls and guys. I can’t tell you how much of a positive influence you all have had on me and how much you’ve truly changed my life for the better.
Some of you have heard me discuss my past struggle with body image and beauty and confidence. If you haven’t, then I am here to say I struggled with those for a considerable while, even up to my time coming to Ashley after my sophomore year. But specifically, I remember one crew night with the girls right before training last year. The social and emotional health topic of the day was body image, and the group activity was, of course, geared towards that. The goal was to discuss our insecurities, discuss how we can overcome them, and then write a comment about every girl in the room and put them in each other’s cups. And I will never forget the moment after the directions were given when this little fifth grader tapped my arm and looked at me and said, “You know I’m… I’m kinda nervous.” I simply said to her, “You know… I am too.” So we went around in a circle and we each said our story- her and I’s were fairly similar- but when we were done, we wrote our compliments and read each other’s. I just want to take the time quickly to read a few so you have an idea: (read 3). First of all, this in itself is legacy; I keep this on my dresser and read them every day. But this girl- she gave me a hug and said “I did it. And I feel really pretty right now. You should too.” It was that moment that changed everything for me- not only with our organization, but with my life. This little fifth grade girl told me that beauty didn’t define her- she defined beauty. She taught me that I define my own beautiful. And I will never forget that. That legacy she made on my heart that day will be forever-lasting, so younger members, don’t ever think that you can’t have legacy on older kids, or even adults, because each and every one of you really has touched my heart and soul like no one else, especially Logan, who is my big sister, and Anna, who is my younger. I said “is” because though the seniors may be off to new adventures, our hearts are always going to be in the same place.
Like this one: (*raise Asher’s heart) I keep Asher’s blue heart in my compliment cup to remind me every morning and every night that no matter where you are- here, Heaven, or even just lost in life, love is always with you. I never knew him- Asher- but he has a legacy on me that I am reminded of daily. You don’t have to know someone to have a legacy on them. That I think is really neat. Because members, think about all the times you were kind to a camper, or a kid at crew night, or even just another member- or even ASHLEY! You are legacy to more people than you know.
I hope no member forgets that they are strong, they are beautiful, they will be remembered, and they are legacy; that is what I want to see from the Stand UP Foundation in the coming years. So thank you Ash for your time, patience, and effort. Thank you girls for being the most driven, encouraging sisterhood I have ever been a part of. Thank you guys for showing everyone that boys can have emotional conversations too. And lastly, thank you to every single kid that attended our crew nights, our splash seshs, our fundraisers, our conferences, our music festivals, and our camps, especially to that fifth grade girl, who made me realize that tonight isn’t about creating a legacy for yourself, it’s about being one, an inspiration and a beacon of light, for someone else. Thank you. J