Students resolve to serve their community in the new year

Resolution '12 encourages people to make public pledges to be socially conscious

· January 11, 2012, 8:21 pm   ·  Updated January 12, 2012, 11:04 pm

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Word on the Walk 1.12.12 | New Year's Resolutions

 Word on the Walk 1.12.12 | New Year's Resolutions

From losing weight to finding a better sense of humor (i.e no more “that’s what she said” jokes), Penn students share their personal goals for the new year.

A New Year’s resolution no longer has to benefit just the person making it.

Launched near the end of 2011 by several members of the Penn community, Resolution ’12 is an initiative that encourages people to make New Year’s resolutions to benefit others. On the website, people can post their resolutions as a public pledge to be socially conscious in their own unique ways.

“It’s a place where people make their commitments public,” said Danielle Heitmann, a 2010 College graduate who co-created the project with University Chaplain Chaz Howard, along with the help of several other friends. “It is unique in that it allows people to put their individual voices and passions into the picture of service toward others … like a community bulletin board or public art project.”

Though the project does not monitor whether users have made good on their resolutions — which is something Heitmann said may be implemented this summer — many participants have emailed the website back with inspirational stories of success and resolution completion.

“Successful resolutions spiral and inspire the next person, and the resolutions build up little by little,” Heitmann said.

After it was formally launched near the end of 2010 with its inaugural project — Resolution ’11 — the nonprofit initiative grew as it partnered with several other national nonprofit organizations.

This year, the project grew when a group of Wharton freshmen — who called themselves “Team Ellipsis” — selected Resolution ’12 as their semester-long project for Management 100.

Over the course of last semester, Team Ellipsis made a number of changes to the project. For example, they created several promotional videos for the website and held an event on Locust Walk on Nov. 11, 2011 (11/11/11) to encourage people to make resolutions instead of wishes.

“People can still always make resolutions and stay conscious of them throughout the year, not just at New Year’s,” Wharton freshman and Team Ellipsis member Maria Corella said.

The students also reached out to a number of well-known personalities on campus and throughout the world. While Wharton freshman and Team Ellipsis member Tiffany Agalaba said she would like to see more celebrity involvement in the initiative, the project managed to solicit a resolution from Penn President Amy Gutmann, among others.

Near the end of last year, Gutmann wrote online that she resolved to “cultivate opportunities for Penn to improve the lives of our local, national and global neighbors through research, teaching and civic engagement.”

Though the project currently runs on an annual basis, Heitmann said the co-creators are looking to transform it into a more “unified movement,” rather than a website that is relaunched every year.

Wharton freshman and Team Ellipsis member Benjamin Yahamoli added that the technical elements of the project could also be improved.

“The graphic design and layout could be changed,” he said, adding that he hopes the project will continue its increased use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The initiative is slowly, but surely, working its way toward its vision of social change.

“We ultimately want to make a deep impression on how we celebrate New Year’s,” Howard wrote in an email. “Along with watching the ball drop, we want making service-oriented resolutions a part of everyone’s experience during the holiday. We hope that at some point there is no need for Resolution ’12, ’13 or ’14 because this is just something that people do on their own.”

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