Have you ever felt a sense of belonging, comfort, inclusion, or acceptance with those who have similar hobbies and interests with you? If so from where? Maybe a club, sport, school or even a group of friends. And with that in mind, how do you attain that sense of belonging? These are all questions I asked myself while writing this speech about community.

Community can be defined as a unified body of individuals by a certain interest. For example, I am a part of a swimming community at a team called the Ridgefield Aquatic Club. I have swum with them for 5 years and they have become a sort of family to me. I have developed such strong relationships, not only with my teammates but with my coaches as well. We have shared strength and strain and both happy and sad tears. With these highs and lows also comes a tighter bond that I as a teammate find very special and has helped me improve and excel as a swimmer. I am also a part of the Ridgefield Academy community, my church community at Wilton Presbyterian, my family community, and groups of friends. Each one of these coteries, provide me with a unique sense of belonging, love, and security. When I am with my Ridgefield Academy Community (just like I am right now) I feel safe, connected, and supported. Although I am not able to see you all right now, I am assured that my buddy, Lola, has a smile on her face as she hears this, my peer leadership class in Mrs. Heller’s 3rd grade are listening attentively, and my advisor, Mrs. D., and the rest of my classmates up on the third floor are all supporting me right now. They have been there when I needed them most for years now. These relationships have taught me that we all play a role in lifting each other up and supporting one another. The kindness I receive from one community enables me to give to a different one; whether that means raking leaves for my church, planting flowers for my school, or giving swim lessons to the younger swimmers on my swim team.

In the fifth grade, Mrs. Reid teaches us about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist, who theorized 5 categories for human development and needs. The first and most critical category is physiological needs, which to summarize practically means air, food, and water. The second category is security needs or in other words feeling safe in a certain environment. The third category is social needs. This conveys the idea that after physiological and security needs, community is what is needed most for the human race. Maslow concludes that loving and being loved is an extremely crucial asset to us. Without it, people may be susceptible to loneliness, anxiety, depression, and more. This has been highlighted recently where many people, both young and old, have suffered from being isolated or away from their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, I have realized the integral role that my communities play in my daily life and will never again take that for granted. I hope that after listening, you will appreciate the communities you have, and look forward to the ones in your future.

I would like to leave you all with a quote by Dorothy Day, "We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes within a community."