A 13-year-old boy of Saint Lucian parentage, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, has inspired the founder of Humans of New York (HONY), Brandon Stanton, to launch a campaign to raise US$100,000 for class trips for his school to Harvard University.
Vidal Chastanet who attends the Mott Hall Bridge Academy, based in the tough Brooklyn area, was asked by Stanton to name who has most influenced his life. He replied, “My principal, Ms Lopez because she tells us that we matter.”
Stanton told CNN that Vidal’s response to his question had deeply touched him. His blog features photos of everyday people he meets on the street and has more than eight million followers, but Stanton said it’s the first time he got such a reply from that question.
Mott Hall is located in Brownsville, Brooklyn which is the neighbourhood with the highest crime rate in New York City.
Just four days after launching the campaign, it has already surpassed its initial goal of $100,000 – raising more than $700,000 for the academy.
Mott Hall will use the first $100,000 raised by the campaign – which ends on February 5 – to provide each incoming sixth-grade class annually with a chance to visit Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the New York Post reported.
Principal Nadia Lopez better known as ‘Super Woman’ decided that at the beginning of every year, she wants to accompany the incoming 6th grade class on a tour of Harvard University.
She said she wanted them to know what it feels like to stand on the campus of one of the world’s top schools. She thinks the experience will broaden their horizons and expand their idea of their own potential.
The first student trips to Harvard will be in the fall. The Academy, founded by Ms Lopez in 2010, will use funds raised beyond the original goal for summer programming for students.
Vidal and his family was featured nine times on HONY, where his mother, Christerlina LaLay Alcee- who was born and raised in St. Lucia- spoke very kindly of her son. She said she is very proud of him and what he made happened for his school.