Close this search box.

Upstanders Amplified – Student Contest Winners

Upstanders Amplified Contest-800x600-de23d5d

Share This Post

Congratulations to the winners of the 2024 Upstanders Amplified Contest! These awards recognize young people who creatively elevated the core messages of the Start With Hello and Say Something programs. The type of entries that were accepted included artwork, videos, poetry, and images. All winners receive a certificate, $500, and recognition on Sandy Hook Promise platforms.

These Upstanders are actively creating safer schools and communities nationwide by exemplifying the importance of empathy and belonging. Join us in celebrating the Upstanders who participated in this contest!

Winners (in alphabetical order)

All it Takes – Poem

Alanna, California

Every place needs an upstander
To speak the words that some might be afraid to say
Because words hold power to making a change forever
Even the words “Hello” or “Hi” can make someone’s day
We never know what someone is going through
Feelings are hurt when something said was not true
We can stop someone from feeling blue
And help them become someone new
We need to stand together and become one
The changes it will make will be a ton
We need to create a community with more inclusion
It’s never too late to reduce exclusion
It needs to start with you, him, or her
To make a place like school, even safer
Even if it’s someone you don’t know,
All it takes is a simple, “hello”
Change someone’s life from a simple greeting
Reach for an adult when things get unbearing
It changes the environment for someone who is struggling
All it takes is to
say something

“I prepared a poem talking about becoming an Upstander by talking to those who are feeling down and talking to a Trusted Adult. These are both actions that involve using our voices to speak up and make an action. I also mentioned how to prevent negative feelings by reducing exclusion in school environments. I chose these topics to talk about because I felt that these were the core things in making an environment safer for everyone while highlighting the main idea of amplifying our voices. If all these things were put into daily practice, the world can become a more peaceful place.”

Bystander vs. Upstander – Video

Paisley, Thomas, Taylor, Jenna, Jaylen, Khloe, Rachel, and Anthony, North Carolina

“This video represents the difference between an Upstander and bystander. It shows how being a bystander can put other people’s life in danger, being an Upstander is always the right option. Our video gives short skits showing examples of the right and wrong thing to do in situations, we represented school shooting/gun violence, bullying, and mental health awareness.”

Cincinnati Country Day School “Starts with Hello” – Video

Cincinnati Country Day School, Ohio

“Our students made a video to get everyone excited about our weeklong Start with Hello activities! We depicted different ways to show ”hello.” In our school, classroom sign-up to say ”hello” to each other. We read a poem and exchanged stickers. Our school serves ages 18 months to 18 years, so we have a lot of fun visiting each other, sharing a ‘hello poem’ and ‘hello stickers!’”

From Fear to Success: A Journey of Empathy – Video

Yaseen, New Jersey

“This video is about my experiences when I was just four years old, newly arriving in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language. It was tough, you know? Feeling like I didn’t belong, facing bullying because of it. But I didn’t let that define me. Nope! I worked hard every single day to learn the language, and to find my voice in this new world. And guess what? I did it! Through determination and resilience, I found my place, standing tall, confident, and proud of how far I’d come. Now, when I look back, I see my journey as a testament to resilience, to the power of empathy, and to the importance of standing up for others. I’m sharing my story with you to let you know that you’re not alone. We all have struggles, but we also all belong. Remember that. You belong. You are not alone.”

Just Start With Hello – Video

Raul, Florida

“In this video, I try to shed light on the warning signs of isolation. I also explain the power of human connection and how easy it is to obtain just by “starting with hello.” My hope is that this video will help students become Upstanders by being able to recognize these warning signs and act appropriately to create a climate of inclusivity in their school. I end the video with a personal testimonial. I felt it important to show that the issues of isolation and belongingness can affect anyone. This process really taught me a lot about the power of visual media in telling a story and sharing a message.”

Never Be Scared of Yourself – Drawing

Aliza and Chloe, New York

“Our poster is inspired by Ruby Bridges’ story. We want the world to know that we cannot change the past, but we can change the future. So be yourself no matter what anyone says! No one should have to change yourself to fit in, and everyone should be themselves, together.”

Participate in the Upstanders Amplified Student Contest

Each year the contest is open from January through April. Individual or groups of students in grades K-12 produce original works of art that exemplify the importance of: 

  • Creating safer schools by building a community of Upstanders
  • Creating safer schools by building empathetic and inclusive communities
  • Lifting up the core messages of the Start With Hello and Say Something programs