Everyone wants to feel included, especially teenagers. Four years ago when 18-year-old Myranda Harbinson embarked on her journey at Pembroke High School, she made sure a choir classmate, on the Autism spectrum, could not only belt it out with confidence, Harbinson formed a friendship filled with love and kindness. When the Metta Students Foundation learned about this beautiful bond they wanted to honor Harbinson.
Now in their third year and expanding into Massachusetts, the non-profit awards $1,000 grants to students who pay it forward or #sharemetta. To date, they have awarded $43,000.
Myranda’s choir teacher, Gwynne Chapman alerted Metta Students saying, “I nominated Myranda because I have seen the remarkable and continual kindness she shows to her friend and choir mate on a daily basis. Over the course of the four years they have been together, Myranda forged a relationship with a student on the Autism spectrum. Myranda helps draw her out and makes sure she is always comfortable and included in the class, helping her keep track of where we are in the music and guides her regarding expectations when we are performing on the stage. Myranda initiates conversation with her and helps set the tone for her peers on how to interact with a student who presents with Autism.”
Harbinson’s acts of kindness went beyond the choir stage, in her junior and senior year she wanted her friend to have the same prom experience as everyone else and organized a “Promposal” during choir class. Both years she and her friend attended the prom together. “If it weren’t for her, I would not have attended our junior prom last year, the same thing goes for this year,” states Harbinson. “When I told her parents about my decision to take her to senior prom they told me that I didn’t have to do this, and that it was my senior prom. What they didn’t know was that taking her is all I wanted to do. There is no other way that I’d want to spend my last prom than together.”
Norm Kelly, founder of Software Quality Associates in Providence, created the Metta Students Foundation in October of 2012 after learning of one teen’s act of kindness towards another teen. “Metta means love and kindness,” states Norm Kelly. “We are thankful to all of our winners for making a positive difference in the world and for helping us spread the Metta mission to simply be kind and #sharemetta.”
It is for all of these reasons that the Metta Students is proud to have awarded Harbinson with one thousand dollars. To see video of how the Metta Students foundation began or for more information about the foundation, log onto www.mettastudents.org.