In his self-run campaign to promote equality around the school, senior Alex Galicia recently began handing out wristbands that say “We Are All The Same.”Galicia worked with East’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee (DIC) to make his idea a reality, and started passing out the wristbands last week. The WAATS bands come in different colors to represent diversity but use the same white font to symbolize unity.
““[The different band colors] represent us as human beings: we have different races, religions, cultures, everything like that,” Galicia said. “The font and font colors are the exact same. So us being human, us being alike, living on Earth, that kind of stuff is what makes us the same. So although they’re different, they’re still same.”
Galicia, a student representative of the DIC, first pitched his idea to the rest of the board at their February meeting. After taking a poll among members, Galicia gained the confidence to move forward with his plan – finding the funding.
Principal John McKinney told Galicia about a PTSA grant system that gives up to $1,000 to school-related projects.
“He submitted [an application for the grant] and I sort of talked to the PTSA about it during our monthly meeting,” McKinney said. “They were very supportive and thought it was a great idea, loved the idea of a student initiating the project, seeking funding through the PTSA.”
Galicia originally requested $900, but he was only able to receive $250 as start-up money, to see if the campaign will be popular enough to continue. Once the wristbands grow in popularity to a point where he’s running out when people ask for them, he’ll know it’s time to ask for another grant.
After he secured the $250, Galicia worked for all of March to figure out the details of the wristbands themselves, like band size and font selection, and eventually ordered them online. With his funds, he was only able to buy two colors rather than his intended 10. He worked with the DIC to decide on the school colors: blue and gray. Galicia hopes that if the wristbands prove popular, he’ll be able to expand the color selection.
“I’m hoping that they blow up a little bit more because I really want to bring more colors into it, so there’s not just the blue and gray,” Galicia said. “So right now I’m just trying to think of ideas to bring them out to people and show them.”
The wristbands arrived March 28, and since then Galicia has been working to promote them. He received 200 and carries at least 50 in his backpack to hand out, with the rest in his locker if he needs more. Though he has only handed out about half, Galicia has been working on a marketing plan since the last DIC meeting.
Galicia has promoted his efforts by posting in a senior Facebook group, but he is mainly relying on word of mouth and giving them to friends to pass out to spread WAATS bands’ popularity. He originally hoped to speak about them at the recent pep assembly, but it came too late in the planning process to fit into the schedule.
“It’s a wonderful thing, and I think an important thing, but also it’s a teachable moment for [Galicia] to learn how you get something off the ground,” McKinney said. “And more important than that sometimes is how do you keep it going? It’s easy to give it to 200 people, but what then? That’s the piece that I think he’s still working on.”
Because he hands out the bands for free, Galicia’s goal is just to spread his message of unity rather than raise funds. If the bands take off, he may charge $2 for each bracelet and donate the money to charity or use it to fund the upcoming rap album of economics teacher David Muhammad, who is also on the Committee.
The wristbands are the only facet of Galicia’s student unity campaign for now, but he may later expand to include videos, social media and more. He talked to his Digital Design teacher Jennifer Hair about the entire class creating WAATS posters as their next project. The class started the activity last week and is making posters with different backgrounds using the same white-colored font to say “We Are All The Same,” just like the bands. Besides the posters, Galicia isn’t sure what will come next for his WAATS campaign.
“It’s fun to watch Alex sort of develop the plan and see it come to fruition,” McKinney said. “But sometimes those things sort of fade when the person who originated them goes away. So it is my hope that it will continue, but I’ll enjoy it while it’s here and it’s fun to watch how far it goes.”