The Alphabet Rockers

By: Bella Kolfenbach, 4th grade

Last Thursday, the Alphabet Rockers came to my school to give an assembly. When someone comes to our school to do an assembly, I usually have a favorite part, but when the Alphabet Rockers came,  I did not have a favorite part because I thought everything about them was amazing. They want to show the world their shine. What I think is cool about them is they want people to be who they are and who they want to be. They traveled all the way from California just to tell people that they are amazing and that you are amazing. They talked about how you CAN BE DIFFERENT IN MANY WAYS BUT YOU NEED TO BE PROUD, EVEN IF YOU ARE DIFFERENT.



During the assembly, they told us their stories. This showed us how they shine. Kaitlin’s story is that when she was little she loved music. So one time she went to a talent show and most of the people who were performing were boys. But she still went up there and showed what she could do. And then she met her friend, Tommy. Tommy told a  story of how when he was younger, he was judged by his skin color. He had to learn to stand up for himself. He also had good friends, like Kaitlin, that would stand up for him if someone said something mean.

One of my favorite songs they did was called “Shine”. I liked this song because it talked about how even though we are all different, we all shine and should show our shine. My favorite thing it says in the song is ‘(I’m) not just a star, i’m-a i’m-a galaxy’. I think this means that you are not just a little thing in the sky, you can shine and be as big as a galaxy and be as big as anyone else, no matter what you look like. This REMINDS ME OF A MOVIE called “Wonder”. There is this part where the sister says, ‘you can’t blend in when you are born to stand out’. We may all be different, but we are each meant to shine!

When the Alphabet Rockers came to my school, I learned many things. I LEARNED THAT YOU NEED TO STAND UP FOR OTHER PEOPLE AND BE KIND TO PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT. I learned is that it’s OK for PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT to STAND OUT. I learned that sometimes people see people who are different as something ugly or scary, just because they are different. I learned this happens more often to black people. What made me cry, and trust me it is really hard to make me cry, is that black people or people who are different are not getting treated as well as white people.  I kind of knew this before, but it made me want to try harder to change how people treat each other.

The Alphabet Rockers are teaching kids that we are each as big as a galaxy, not just a star. And also that you are not just a star, you are a galaxy. You are amazing and can shine in a fun and encouraging way. I want to be just like the Alphabet Rockers and teach kids that they are important and beautiful, and do it in a fun way. One of my favorite moves that they did was called the ‘meatball and spaghetti’. The ‘meatball and spaghetti’ is where you crunch up into a ball and then slowly lift up your arms and rattle them. It looks like this:


The Alphabet Rockers are cool, fun, funny, awesome, loving, brave, kind, and helpful. And that is all I have to say about the Alphabet Rockers. You should see them some time.

About the Author:

Bella Kolfenbach is a 4th grader at Isabella Bird Community School in Denver, CO. She is a big sister to two brothers, a slime expert, stitch-lover, and good friend. Her dream is to convince others that all people should be treated equally.

#bebrave #wearebrave

A Family Story of Two Immigrants

My family immigrated to the United States when I was 5 years old. My father applied for and obtained a green card relatively easily as an educated professional. Without any hiccups, my parents became US citizens a few years later and I followed thereafter becoming a US citizen on September 16, 1988. I remember with pride obtaining my citizenship, but I was not as appreciative of the benefits I would be afforded. My family is from Canada.

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Twenty-four years later, my then fiancé applied for a fiancé visa to the United States. We filled out countless documents detailing his education, medical exam, financial and bank information and evidence of our relationship together including emails, travel, and the birth of our daughter. He was granted a visa and we moved from Kenya to the US in the fall of 2012. Carefully following immigration procedures, we completed in-person interviews, submitted ongoing paperwork and documentation of our life together, allowing him to obtain permanent residency (a “green” card). At the same time, he obtained an MBA from the University of Denver and found stable employment. Eventually, he was able to apply for citizenship. He studied seriously for his citizenship test- 100 questions I would not have been able to answer half of and passed with flying colors. The whole family attended his swearing in ceremony with pride. His citizenship meant so much. Visa-free travel around the world, employment opportunities, and above all, the confidence that we could remain as a family indefinitely in the United States. Things I never once worried about with or without my US citizenship. My husband is from Kenya.

Recent immigration rhetoric has turned ugly in many ways. When we don’t know individual immigrants, we tend to lump people into whole groups that don’t represent who they are or where they come from. Our immigration history shows that as a country we go through waves of targeted anti-immigrant fervor- sometimes targets Catholics or Jewish people, other times Chinese, non-white, and Latinos. At certain times it was incredibly hard to immigrate if you were Irish, Polish, or Italian- hard to imagine today.

While it is true that many immigrants come to the US seeking a better life, clearly many are not impoverished, uneducated, violent, or hold extremist views. African immigrants, who were recently characterized as coming from “shithole” countries for example, have generally higher education rates than the US population as a whole with 43% holding bachelor’s degrees or higher versus 29% of U.S. citizens, and 70% already speak English on arrival. But statistics only mean so much. What about the actual people? The majority of Kenyans we know in the U.S. came initially for educational opportunities not available in Kenya. They chose to stay because job options for them in Kenya aren’t comparable to here.

My children are incredibly lucky. Not just because they were born in the U.S. and have U.S. citizenship but because they are also able to be dual citizens of Kenya. Kenya is an amazing country, with incredible people who we are proud and blessed to be a part of.

If you’re uncertain about immigration- get to know an immigrant, learn about your family’s own immigration story and challenges. You may be surprised how alike our stories are.

Girl Rising

By: Lisa Abuogi

Late in the evening on a crisp November evening, I went into labor with my first child. We drove 30 minutes to the pristine University Hospital where I planned to deliver. When the baby’s heart rate kept dropping a team of doctors and nurses from multiple specialties crowded the room prepared to save her life and protect mine. My daughter, Lailah Atieno was born healthy on the 23rd of November, 2010.


I was living in Kenya at the time of Lailah’s birth, working in remote rural regions hit hard by the HIV epidemic. On one visit to a faraway clinic, I remember bouncing along the muddy roads 7 months pregnant thinking, “What happens if I go into labor right now?”. I chose to return to the U.S. for delivery. As a pediatrician myself, I knew the complications that could happen during labor and delivery. I wanted to give Lailah the very best chance.  I was privileged to have that option.

When Lailah turned 2, my Kenyan husband and I decided to relocate to the U.S. We wanted Lailah to have the best educational opportunities possible without having to pay top dollar for private schools. Again, we were privileged to be able to give her that.

But Kenyan girls and women are never far from my mind. I return three times a year for work on HIV. I see first-hand the challenges girls face trying to get an education. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 75% of girls start primary school but only 8% finish secondary school. Girls drop out for lack of money (only elementary school is “free” in Kenya), due to missing too much school during menstruation, after getting pregnant, and to help at home. They are 6 times more likely to become child brides without a secondary education.

I want all parents to have the options we have had for our daughter- health and education. We focus on girls because they are so often left behind and excluded which hurts us all. For every additional year a mother is educated, the chances of her infant dying drop by 5-10%. Each extra year of secondary school can help a girl increase their future earnings by 10-20%.  

Brave Coalition is joining Women in Security and Regis University to celebrate the International Day of the Girl by screening the incredible documentary Girl Rising. These stories will bring you to tears, inspire you, and push you to act. Get tickets to the screening on Friday, October 20th. Join us. When girls rise, we all rise.

#bebrave #wearebrave