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December 20, 2011 / windlessly

Bracelets to Change the World

I’ve always been a bracelet person. I like the individuality that comes with wearing something so simple and yet subtly noticeable. They’re comfortable and not as bulky as watches. They come in just about every color and pattern. And for me, wearing a bracelet is like making a commitment- I always wear them for an extended period of time, for as long as I can. Whether it’s one my friend made or one I bought one from some sort of fundraising event, I like to wear the bracelet until 1) it falls off from wear 2) I lose it 3) I’m forced to take it off during the school soccer season according to the rules of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. (And even then I made sure to put it back on after the game).

I don’t think I’ll ever completely forget any of the bracelets I’ve worn during my life. Like songs, bracelets too can be tied to memories or certain periods of my life. Like the plain brown one I made at Sabattis Boy Scout Camp way back when, or the white-green-blue-black one I wore when my family went back to Taiwan to visit relatives, or the Salvation bracelet I made this past summer with my elementary small group at church. They looked something like this, and were especially meaningful to me because the colors explained and reminded me of my faith.

Other people certainly know what I’m talking about when I say I get attached to my bracelets. Some of my buddies on the soccer team never took off their bracelets or headbands during the season and taped them down instead, claiming that they were their “lucky bracelets” for all the games. There’s also so many variations of the Livestrong bracelet out there that people seem to have their own personal version/combinations on their wrists at any given time.

The thing that really popularized Livestrong bracelets and just bracelets in general, I think, is the strong association they have with cause or mission. Livestrong bracelets were originally founded to raise funds for cancer, and have sold as many as 80 million individual bands so far. Other fundraisers consistently use bracelets as an eloquent and attractive way to make profit as well as spread popularity and awareness.

The one I’m wearing right now, pictured above , is a bracelet I bought at my church to help support a mission  trip to Guatemala. It’s a constant reminder on my right wrist to pray for those less fortunate in the world and also for those who may not know God.

And the way I see it, bracelets have and will be a way to change the world. A few weeks ago, my school held an assembly to talk about the Invisible Children organization and showed the video Tony, a powerful documentary detailing the story of how young people across the nation have been rising up to help the children their age in northern Uganda. For years the area has been plagued by war, riveted with violence and child abduction led by Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army that is responsible for much of the war. Invisible Children is a non-profit organization that is looking to raise funds to provide education and scholarships to students in Uganda, to improve village and refuge camp conditions, and to create global awareness to pass legislation and suppress some of the terrorist actions led by Joseph Kony. The bracelet campaign by Invisible Children as explained here is something truly motivating. It ties in everything there is to say about the situation in Africa, and makes the contribution that much more personal and memorable by including a story about a child in need.

After the assembly at my school and some time spent watching all the videos on the Invisible Children website, there’s a profound emotion that’s still pulling at me. 75% of you right now are reading this from somewhere in the U.S. Another 20% are from the United Kingdom or Canada. How many children in Africa do you think have access to the internet? How many in northern Uganda even have a safe home to return to? And I’m not saying we should just focus all our attention on Africa- there are so many parts of the world that are not as privileged as we are. They’re not fortunate enough to have basic amenities or a place to stay. Half a million Americans are homeless right now. And yet all I’m doing right now to help them is typing on a computer screen, sitting in a chair and wondering how much of an impact words really have. We HAVE the resources to make things right in the world. All we lack is time and effort and commitment. Which is why I like the bracelet campaign so much, because having something to wear really reminds you and keeps you conscious of the things outside your own life. So could bracelets change the world? Maybe. But the awareness that they bring would be a pretty good start. 
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