Pillars of Positivity

Article by: Melissa Meske, the AdVantage, (618)463-0612

BETHALTO - The Mannie Jackson Center and Lewis and Clark Community College partnered with the regional superintendent and Madison County to support a youth-driven Conversation Toward a Brighter Future. At a February summit attended by more than 200 middle school and high school student participants, dialogues were initiated and built around the four guiding pillars of the center’s foundation. 

Gowin said the group started from an initiative at the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities in Edwardsville, and is now in its fifth year at the school. As a group, the students reinforce a constant message through its pillars: respect, dignity, understanding, forgiveness and kindness.

On its website, the center shares the motivation behind this important initiative. 

“The Conversation Toward a Brighter Future is occurring as a solution to the negative discourse that is taking place across the country among our national leaders,” the website states. “As a result of their behavior, our world is becoming increasingly polarized. We must rely on the future leaders of this nation, our youth, to begin the conversation toward ways we can make this country better.”

“The center’s initiative identified four pillars, but our students added the fifth, kindness, because they thought it was important too,” Gowin said. “We have a mission, which is to promote mutual understanding and respect among students of all ages, no matter their differences. We work to make our school feel like a safe, supportive and fun place to be for all our students, and we hope that the lessons and actions that the committee shares has a lasting impact on all of our students, teachers, the community and beyond.”

Students involved in the Pillars Committee come from all grades — sixth, seventh and eighth. They are selected based on their demonstrated desire to make a difference and ability to take part in the long list of activities they carry out each year.

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