My name is Ben Melody, and I am a Gilbert senior who is a member of Moving Forward. If you
are unfamiliar, Moving Forward is a student-led organization dedicated to having a positive
impact on the mental health of high school students. I'm going to talk a little bit about Moving
Forward and offer some general advice.
About Moving Forward
Before Moving Forward, the student body felt alone, isolated, and distant. It was difficult to make
any connections, let alone friends. The only interactions were those within a specific friend
group, resulting in a cliquey atmosphere. Personally, I believe this is due to COVID-19, but I also
recognize that some of these issues existed prior to the pandemic. After several years of this, a
few school leaders recognized the issues and took action. That group of leaders, which includes
myself, created Moving Forward, an organization run by students for the students.
Instead of focusing on the student body's flaws in the past, we focus on how to create a better
future, hence the name Moving Forward. Our mission is to create an environment in which all
Gilbert High School students feel safe, have a good group of friends, and know they are cared
for. We accomplish this through our events, community outreach, and reminding students of our
1. Our Events - At least once a month, we host events for the entire high school. Everyone
is welcome, and there is representation from all age groups and grades. Our events are
a place where all cliques and barriers dissolve, leaving a genuine and fun environment in
which everyone is free to be themselves. Everyone forgets about trying to impress
others and fitting in, and instead just relax and have fun. We have between 100 and 170
people at events, which is impressive given that we only have about 550 students in high
school. These are the focal points of our work at Moving Forward. For more information
or specifics about how we do this, our information is at the bottom of this page.
2. Communicate our Message - We do this by speaking on the radio, taking part in
community conversations, using social media, writing articles, doing concessions, and
holding assemblies. We want to get our message out as far as possible so that other
high school students, schools, and parents can apply what we've learned to their own
3. Reminding Students of Our Mission - Even if a student does not attend an event, the
concept of Moving Forward serves as a reminder that they are loved. Many of the ways
we communicate our message (as seen above), clothing, and wristbands are used to
accomplish this. For example, whenever a student sees someone wearing a Moving
Forward wristband, it serves as a gentle reminder that "I'm here for you."
Nothing is perfect, and there is still much work to be done, but we can see a noticeable
difference in the student body's environment.
I'm no genius, but these are some of the most important takeaways and pieces of advice I have
for high school students.
Don't let your discomfort prevent you from helping others. Helping others does not always have
to be a grand heroic gesture; it can be as simple as greeting someone in the hallway. There are
so many instances in my own life where I would be too afraid to reach out to someone new. I
wanted to, and I knew it was the right thing to do, but I was afraid it would be awkward.
Unfortunately, this prevented me from saying "hello" to others, striking up a conversation with
them, making new friends, or assisting others in need. This is something I've struggled with for a
long time, and it's something I work on every day. I have two choices when walking from one
class to the next in the hallway. I could look down at my phone and pass through without saying
anything, or I could push myself and say "hi" to as many people as possible, especially those I
don't know. I may not realize it, but going out of my way to say "hi" to someone may just make
their day or be exactly what they needed to hear. Give up your comfort for the sake of others.
Reach out to those who are perceived to be shy in particular. Those who are extremely shy are
usually so because they are too afraid to reach out to, or even respond to, others. They want to
talk to you, but they may not be as comfortable in public as others. I promise you that no matter
how awkward or strange a person makes an interaction, they appreciate it, even if it doesn't
appear that way. If you put in the effort, you can connect with anyone and everyone.
Reach out to those who are perceived as mean in particular. Those who are perceived as mean
do so because they are hurting, trying to fit in, or are confused. Instead of avoiding them, try to
understand them. Have patience even if they are short with you, say hurtful things, or are rude.
That person has most likely spent their entire life avoiding, abandoning, and being impatient
with them. Be patient, because that is exactly what they are missing. Take their words with a
grain of salt. Pay attention to their intentions and nothing else.
Focus on others. When you forget about your own problems and focus on those of others, your
own become much smaller. Someone always has it worse than you, and thinking about others
can help you remember that. Making others a priority in your life will assist you in achieving
your goals and creating a better life for everyone around you. Helping others is the best way to
To help, spread our message, help others, donate, or apply some of what we have done to your
own life. We will have more opportunities to help and will post updates on events and other
projects we are involved in on our social media, so make sure to follow us. Please contact us
via social media or email if you have any questions, opportunities, or ideas!
My Personal Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Moving Forward Email - email@example.com
Facebook - Moving Forward
Instagram - @movingforward50014
Venmo - @MovingForward43