From veganism to the concussion protocol, Ripple Effect projects create positive change

 South freshman Ayla Farrow and Fleur Vass host a movie screening to raise awareness of rising sea levels. This screening was part of their Ripple Effect project, a final project for Liberal Arts freshman.

South freshman Ayla Farrow and Fleur Vass host a movie screening to raise awareness of rising sea levels. This screening was part of their Ripple Effect project, a final project for Liberal Arts freshman.

For the past several years the 9th grade Liberal Arts students have participated in a final project at the end of the school year. It is called the Ripple Effect project. Students are instructed to create something that will have a lasting effect. Ian Mackimm, a ninth grader at South, explained that the goal of the Ripple Effect project is “to create positive change in your community.” Many students have come up with creative projects to raise awareness and create systemic change.

Freshman Jose Aragon’s ripple effect project was centered around animal agriculture and the impacts of a vegan or vegetarian diet. For Aragon, the change in diet was inspired by his sister. “My sister went vegetarian a while back and she spread it on to me. Then she went vegan and I went vegan as well. Then we started seeing films centered around that and I started learning more about that,” Aragon said. He spoke about the exploitation of our oceans and the amount of land that is used to raise animals. “The land used for animal agriculture is around forty percent. That land could easily be used for people or other things,” Aragon explained. His project includes passing out flyers with QR codes to different resources (such as vegan recipes and documentaries) and encouraging students to take on a one week vegan challenge.

Aragon is also considering a movie screening of one of his favorite documentaries. Aragon hopes to make an impact with his project. “Hopefully with my challenge… people will have some insight, maybe research more and hopefully they will go vegan and inspire other people to go vegan.”

Freshman Ian Mackimm is also working towards creating a healthy environment. For the past few years Mackimm has worked to clear the area Coldwater Spring of invasive species. Coldwater Spring is a historic site near Fort Snelling that has been invaded by plants such as buckthorn and wild mustard. As Mackimm described, “Invasive species are not necessarily plants, but in this situation they are, that have been introduced from another area. They… can damage the ecosystem a lot.” Mackimm first got involved with this project through his middle school science class. Now he and his partner, freshman Riley Bleakmore, are continuing the tradition by helping clear the area and creating a video to raise awareness in the community.

Freshman Maggie Anderson also hopes to make lasting change within the school district. Anderson has collected almost five hundred signatures to change our district’s concussion protocol. For Anderson, her motivation was personal experience. “Earlier this year I got a concussion and because I wasn’t in football or soccer the nursing staff here and my coaches weren’t really aware of what to look out for. So I had a concussion for two months… I want to use my project to help everyone be protected from concussions,” she said.

Anderson plans to present her petition at a District Public Comment meeting where she will also share her story and recommendations. Anderson would like the MPS district to implement pre-season concussion testing for all sports, more educational resources on concussions and a standard district protocol. Anderson wants the protocol to cover “everyone in every sport and our schools as a whole.”

Freshmen Ayla Farrow and Fleur Vassanyi took on the larger-scale issue of rising sea levels caused by global climate change. “It’s even more of an issue since Donald Trump cancelled the [Paris] accord. We cannot fully stop it but it can get slowed down,” Farrow explained. The Paris Accord is an agreement between almost every country in the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In just the past couple weeks President Trump backed out of this historic deal. Until carbon emissions are reduced, sea levels will continue to rise. The pair put up posters and held a movie screening after school to raise awareness on the issue.

Every project whether it was volunteering, raising awareness, or creating systemic change will have some impact on our community. As Aragon put it, “The school will change [because of the Ripple Effect projects] — hopefully.”