By Ana Cedeno
For most people their daily job consist of a day at the office, losing vision in front of a computer monitor and telling jokes amongs coworkers during lunch, all for the a salary that allows them to life a comfortable and sensible life with limited to minimal free time or breaks in routine.
That’s the reality of work for many of us.
For Kristen Sharp however, the routine is a little different. Her workday starts when she puts on body paint and dresses up as the Statue Of Liberty.
Sharp is part of the The Liberty Learning Foundation, which provides civic education to children by taking a theatrical approach.
According to their website the Libby Liberty Foundation aims to tackle the financial situation and aims to get kids college-ready and job-ready by bringing back Civics into the classroom.
They do this by training volunteers and teachers to “teach beyond the test” and giving students lessons that supplement what they learn in the classroom.
This is where the person Libby Liberty comes in.
Having a love for acting, and a practice in it since age 14 Sharp, has been putting those talents toward teaching children about the importance of civic duties for a little over a year.
“It is a bit of a whirlwind being thrust into a costume and green paint on a first interview so I was pretty terrified,” Sharp said adding that that first performance she did on that interview didn’t actually go so well.
In spite of that early hiccup, Sharp and the staff at the foundation sat down to exchange ideas and got to know one another.
“We became a family,” Sharp said. “A family with a common vision and goal and that changed things. That’s when I decided to be a part of the team.”
Kristen from then on became part of the Libby Liberty team, dressing up as the Statue Of Liberty and taking on the moniker to help children learn about civics and patriotism in a more interactive way.
As Libby Liberty, Sharp travels around the country delivering to students a message of hope and liberty.
The students themselves take part in the Super Citizenship program, a ten-week long course intended to teach civic duty, leadership and entrepreneurship.
Kristen, or rather Libby, usually surprises the students by jumping off her pedestal and ‘coming to life’.
She then tells them her history-America’s history- and explains to the young citizens how even young students can someday have an effect on the country they live in and make a difference.
This is something that Kristen, along with the Libby Liberty foundation, feel is truly missing from a lot of the kids in the country.
“It is important because most, if not all, of these students haven’t heard this message,” Sharp said. “I am not standing up delivering a fluffy message for the students to clap and cheer to, I am empowering them to break out of the mold and to not be oppressed by what they may or may not have been born into. I am showing and telling them that because of what Lady Liberty stands for, they can make a tremendous impact in their lives and the lives of people around them.”
The impact this message has on the children is according to Sharp, palpable and invigorating all at once.
“The best part of what Libby does is to light a fire of hope and excitement in the eyes of these children,” Sharp said. “They go on to do incredible things in the Super Citizen Program, in their schools, homes and communities. I get to see first hand what a difference Libby makes in the lives of these students.”
This feeling of making an impact is what really cemented her commitment to the Libby Liberty foundation.
“I did not choose to truly love Libby until I watched my first Super Citizen Kickoff,” Sharp said. “Hundreds of children in crowns, waving flags and singing ‘YOU in the USA’ at the top of their lungs. I sat surrounded by them and cried.”
Sharp has a long history of performing, and has been acting since the age of 12.
She did her first musical theater role in high school and started touring with Broadway shows at the age of 16.
She then proceeded to act professionally for many years.
She traveled back south 9 (she’s originally from Alabama) after 9/11 saying the attack made her “refocused to what was truly important to me “
While the theater is her first love and passion, and she still performs from time to time Sharp states that she doesn’t consider Libby Liberty to be a performance.
“Acting is not really a part of Libby for me,” Sharp said. “While I may have to muster up some energy backstage, once I see the faces of the students, it is just my heart to tell the story and see the change happen in their lives.”
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