It all started at the playground, in fifth grade. The powder-blue sky lay in submission as I sprinted out of the classroom alongside my classmates. I wove my way through the web of monkey bars and spiraling slides before I heard a group of my best friends laughing on the other side of the playground. Curious, I ran over to them. As I made my way, I began to wonder what the object of their jeers might be. To my surprise, it was not a colorful bug or a distraught hill of ants. It was a boy! The boy, who liked to read, was in our class. I learned that this boy was being made fun of because he did not like playing kickball or jump rope. I started to join in . . . but I hesitated. This boy was different from the rest of the class; yet, is reading a book so wrong? I considered it and arrived at a surprising conclusion. Who was I to humiliate someone when they could just as easily do the same to me. The boy was different, yes, but in no way at all does that qualify him to endure torment and stress every day. Would you enjoy being laughed at, as if a single cloud followed you all day and constantly blocked your sunshine with a steady stream of pointed fingers and hushed taunts?
I decided to act. Against my thoughts, against my words, I decided to act against my friends. The boy did not deserve this.
Like the boy, I was different. I stood out. And for the first time all year, even if just barely, I saw a small smile come to the boy’s lips. This one smile, a quick happy feeling, changed me, the boy, and my friends. They tore down the wall separating our two recess pastimes. And with the barricade down, my friends, the boy, and I now enjoyed recess together for the first time. The act of sticking out and doing something no one else had done for this boy made a difference.
I believe the differences made in life create a sparkle; one that is reflected in the smiles of others. Before the boy, my smile came at the expense of others; but after, the boy opened up a new path, a road less traveled. A road that leads to sticking for what is right. I believe in standing up for what I believe in, even though I might be alone. I believe these individual acts of standing up keep the sparkle going in life. The little boy in fifth grade taught me this; he changed my life. I saw it in his smile.
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