Deering High School in Portland, ME, is the most diverse school north of Boston in the US. An identity the school embraces and celebrates, highlighted by the fact that it's the first high school in the entire United States to offer it's female Muslim student-athletes sports hijabs as part of the standard team equipment.
"There was just this excitement and energy and just these big smiles. It's recognition of who they are."
Deering High School Athletic Director
This move to inclusive equipment and a recognition of different cultural needs did not come from the Muslim students themselves - many did not feel empowered to speak up. It took a peer to recognize the inequality and demand something be done, so she organized a drive to raise money to afford the Hijabs. The fundraiser was a quick success and they easily implemented the use of Hijabs in their school sports.
Now the young female Muslim athletes aren't concerned with making sure their Hijab stays on as they sprint down the field - they're going for the goal.
And inspired by the kindness of their peers, two of the young women who can now succeed on the field are stepping up in their school. Sulwan Ismail-Ahmed and Fadumo Adan have since run for student government, becoming co-Class Presidents, and become tutors and mentors.
"The best way I can give back is to be a part of my community and an active leader"
Watch their story here: