The words that matter most are the ones you say to yourself.

We could each spend a lifetime practicing the lessons in that statement. In the outward-facing business of our daily lives, the simplicity of “self talk” can be easily overlooked. But the profound power of daily affirmations was not lost on Jerry, one of our Year 3 students, as he coped with the enormous challenges of this tumultuous year in his adolescence.

Jerry created a motivational quotes board on the wall of his bedroom in his family’s apartment on the Lower East Side. Below, in his own words, are his reflections about the process of creating the board, and the effects it has had on his 10th and 11th grade years of high school, the majority of which were spent in online learning from his home. We are so proud of Jerry for his extraordinary efforts this year, for his insightful nature, and his willingness to share this part of his story.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges of 2020 for you?
Staying in the house when quarantine was happening and losing connections with my friends was hard, because we didn’t really get to say goodbye in person before everything shut down. And then, my uncle passed away from COVID, and seeing so many people dying from this disease was really difficult for me.

Q: What are some of your goals for 2021?
I want to inspire people and motivate them to continue moving forward and being successful in life. I spread positivity through the videos on my YouTube channel, because when someone is in a tough time I want them to be able to smile or make them feel better when they watch my videos. I want to see everyone be successful in life – for the people who think they can’t do it, I am here to tell you that you can do it. The little things you do can lead to a huge change in your life.

Q: Which of the quotes is your favorite and/or most applies to who you are right now?
I started the board on New Year’s Eve, because I thought that a quote of the day could be one little thing I could do in 2021 to motivate people, and motivate myself. One of my favorite quotes is, “A little progress each day adds up to big results.” This one applies to me right now because I am a person who does little small things but in the future might be something huge all together.

Q: What did you learn by doing this?
I learned that if I stay motivated and take care of the things around me, I can put them all together and can make a huge difference in my life and maybe in someone else’s life too. I have learned that I bring important ideas to the world. I want to help people to be successful in their life, and help them to learn how to change the world and change their future.