published Friday, May 18th, 2012

The power of one

Never underestimate the power of an individual to promote change in society. Especially when the individual is an articulate and fearless student willing to challenge bureaucracy or deeply entrenched stereotypes. Moriah Silvers and Lauren Clapham are splendid exemplars of such useful conduct.

Silvers, a student at Ringgold High School with Tourette's Syndrome, an ailment that includes involuntary compulsions, or tics, has become a powerful advocate for understanding of the affliction. She's completed training with the national Tourette Syndrome Association and now speaks regularly to classmates, students at other schools, church groups and law enforcement and public health groups about the oft-misunderstood genetic condition. Her work has borne fruit.

Those who have heard her speak agree that they are now far less likely to criticize or make fun of someone with the syndrome. That's proof that Silvers is accomplishing her mission.

Clapham, a vegetarian who recently graduated from Signal Mountain High School, was unhappy with the salad options available. She did more than grouse about it. Clapham took action.

She instigated a survey of students at her school that elicited support for her idea and then worked with the supervisor of nutritional services for Hamilton County Schools to plan a salad bar at her school. That task ultimately expanded to include salad bars at other schools. The result: There will be a salad bar at every middle and high school in the county next year.

Both Silvers and Clapham willingly undertook the effort to provide something -- understanding in one case, better food choices in the other -- to their peers and their communities. Their decision speaks positively about their maturity, wisdom and willingness to serve others.

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