An NYC teen who created the film "The Second Day," which features interviews with people who raced from Ground Zero on 9/11 to safety, is awarded the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for his "Show Your Strength Campaign" aimed at teens.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Brook Peters was attending his second day of kindergarten just a few blocks from the World Trade Center when two planes struck the Twin Towers. As his mother raced from Ground Zero with Brook on her shoulder, he watched one of the Towers fall. At age 11, he borrowed a handheld camera and interviewed students and educators who had been in the schools surrounding Ground Zero "to give them a voice about what happened that day and afterwards."
Brook Peters. Photographed by Barby Espy
He edited his interviews into a 37-minute film about their experiences and called it "The Second Day." The film premiered last April at the Tribeca Film Festival and received a standing ovation. Since then, the film has been seen worldwide in 21 countries and has been incorporated into school curricula about 9/11.
Last August, Brook launched a campaign called Show Your Strength, which asks teens to submit photos of themselves with an inspirational message about their personal strength.
"The idea behind the Show Your Strength campaign is that no matter what you go through in life, you are never alone," says Brook, who’s now 15. "We as humans have resilience and compassion—resilience to overcome the mountains in our path along the road of life, and compassion for those who have been in a similar place. We all fight our own battles, every one of us, and we can help one another."
Brook is one of 25 recipients of the 2012 Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which honors young people who have planned and carried out a significant service project to help others and/or the environment. The annual prize was created about a decade ago by children’s author T.A. Barron, in memory of his mother. Winners each receive $2,500 to be applied to their service project or higher education.
"I felt proud. I felt as if I was one more step towards helping people," Brook says of winning the award. His goals going forward include making more films, becoming a firefighter with the FDNY, and continuing to help other people. He hopes his work will inspire other young people to make a difference. "You are never too young to try, never too young to succeed either," Brook says. "If you see something that you have a passion for, go out and do it."
Learn more about Brook’s work at theseconddayfilm.com.
For more information on The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, including a complete list of this year’s winners and info on how to nominate a young hero in your community, visit barronprize.org.