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Ben with Moving Forward

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

mission.


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

lives.


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.


General Advice

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

help yourself.


Reaching Out

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 - ben.r.melody@gmail.com

Moving Forward Email - movingforward50014@gmail.com

Facebook - Moving Forward

Instagram - @movingforward50014

Venmo - @MovingForward43

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