By Helene Abrams and David Giller
Something very special happened to the children of P.S. 55 in the Bronx: A song wove a room full of children into a reverberating hymn of confidence, and a movement for building children’s self-esteem was born. It all began with “I’m A Person,” a simple and inspiring song with a powerful message of hope, composed by David Giller. You could see it in their eyes and feel it in their spirit when more than 700 children sang the lyrics: “I’m an ever-loving, thinking-feeling, peaceful-going, real-live person.” They felt connected, and heard a message which awakened them and committed them to dream and believe in their futures. The rhythms and message of the song ignite the spirit of dignity and respect that is the inalienable right of each person.
A schoolteacher for more than 50 years, Sharon Prichard, who led the chorus at P.S. 55, says, “You can tell a child a million times how special they are, but when they sing “I’m A Person” they feel it in their soul.” Besides singing the song each day and participating in the many activities that comprise the “I’m A Person” program, the children recite the “Rights and Responsibilities of a Person”—which include “I have the right to be safe,” “I have the right to be happy,” and “I have the right to achieve my dreams.”
Kids say the “I’m A Person” program is like a light within a dark room, and that it gives them the courage to feel powerful and stand up for goodness. Principal Luis Torres, who believes that this song is the children’s lifeline, said the program reduced behavioral incidents from more than 240 to 80 in just one year, and increased attendance to as much as 96%. He said the program also increased kindness and stopped bullying. The children sing the song with peers and teachers, and at home with their parents and siblings.
Studies reveal that building self-esteem, starting with very young children, can go a long way toward resolving many of today’s pressing challenges—such as bullying, gun violence, addictions, depression, and suicide. Experts agree that higher self-esteem significantly increases children’s creativity and level of achievement, improves relationships, and promotes a healthier understanding of self and others. If Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz had had higher self-esteem, things might have been dramatically different, and 17 precious lives could have been spared.
The stunning success of the “I’m A Person” Project in stopping bullying and creating a positive climate at such a highly challenged South Bronx elementary school has won us, the project’s creators, self-esteem strategists, and global visionaries, great respect and acclaim from community leaders, educators, and the media.
As founders of the Think Positive World Movement, we are also producing a feature documentary about “I’m A Person”—the new global anthem for every person—called The Song that Changed the World which we intend to distribute to schools throughout America and worldwide.
If you have a child or grandchild, or are a teacher or school administrator, now is the time to make sure your kids are singing “I’m A Person.” For further information, kindly contact the Think Positive World NYC headquarters at (212) 265-5748, or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit thinkpositiveworld.com.
Helene Abrams and David Giller, founders of the Think Positive World Movement, are strategists for positive change, and the authors of an upcoming book, Being Positive is Who I Am. For more than 40 years, they have been committed to creating and implementing tools and strategies for accelerating positive change in communities worldwide through arts, media, and education.