Encinitas teen picked for Women of Impact award
Joy Ruppert, 16, won the Women of Impact award for being a Young Leader
Encinitas teen Joy Ruppert is set on doing her part to make the world a better place. For her that means helping end racism in all its forms. Already the 16-year-old has made her mark.
Joy, a sophomore at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas, has led an effort to start a Multicultural Anti-Racism Coalition at her high school and has fought for ethnic diversity classes that teach about various cultures so students can have mutual respect for each other’s cultural backgrounds.
Joy was chosen for a Women of Impact award for her leadership efforts among young people in the community and was recognized by California Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, who represents the 76th District.
Joy and classmate Aya Jaffer lead the youth committee of Encinitas4Equality, a group that fosters racial diversity and equity in Encinitas and neighboring communities.
The two organized an email campaign lobbying the San Dieguito Union High School District board of education to address what they felt was a lack of multicultural education in their school system. When that was unsuccessful, they led a protest at San Dieguito Academy, where Joy is vice president of the school’s Associated Student Body and secretary of the Encinitas-Carlsbad Leos Club, a youth group of the Lions Club.
“Growing up as an Asian American, racial justice and actively being an anti-racist has always been in my blood as I have to experience subtle acts of racism on a daily basis,” Joy said.
Joy and Aya spearheaded an effort with fellow classmates to create a group called DON, which stands for “Diversify our Narrative.” The group works with teachers and leaders throughout Encinitas to push for offering classes that support multicultural education.
“This is a place for all allies, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) and other students to feel safe and accepted while learning about important events and history around multiculturalism and anti-racism,” Joy said.
For Joy, it is important for people to be able to discuss issues openly and that was one of the reasons for forming the Diversify our Narrative group.
“Joy has created a safe and welcoming space within her school for diverse students and those who want to advocate for racial and social justice. She also inspires adults to work harder to be more open minded, committed and focused on racial justice and compassion,” said Mali Woods-Drake, president and co-founder of Encinitas4Equality.
Joy encourages her fellow community members to be open-minded about folks who have different cultural backgrounds and not rely on misleading stereotypes.
“The best way to start actively becoming an anti-racist is to call out your peers or family members who participate in racist acts or microaggressions, for these harmful stereotypes impact our BIPOC and AAPI peers at school and in our communities,” Joy said. “It is scary to call out people for these comments, however, this is the only way to stop the normalization of racism within our communities and create a safe space for all.”
— Linda McIntosh is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune
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