Teen creates Upstander and Ally Scholarship to combat racism and bullying
An eighth grade girl is being praised for starting a scholarship to recognize others who speak up when witnessing adversity.
Sydnei McKnight was racially harassed for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement last summer.
“It really was a hard time,” says McKnight.
The 13-year-old says a kid she knew from summer camp harassed her on social media with racial slurs. Luckily, she didn’t have to face the attacks alone.
"I had one friend who stood up for me, and he was just an ally,” says McKnight. “He didn’t have to stick up for me, and he did.”
The friend notified trusted adults at The Chapel School in Bronxville. McKnight says the experience inspired her to create a way to recognize students at her school who serve as allies.
"It is time for people to stand up and stand up for good and make a change,” says McKnight.
McKnight created an Upstander and Ally Scholarship, which awards an incoming sixth grader with $500 a year. To receive the money, the student will be required to write an essay that best emphasizes the importance of standing up for their classmates.
Meisha McKnight, Sydnei’s mother, says “Something you have to let go and go on and other things you really have to stand up for what you believe in. And she is really a person who stands up for what she believes in.”
“It's inspiring that a young person like Sydnei understands and recognizes the importance of being an upstander and ally for others," the school's principal told News 12.
The 8th grader’s actions prove that even kids can be innovators within their communities.
News 12 is told the scholarship recipient will be chosen in June during graduation.