Blog | halos

  • How Do You Halo? Nick Stars Edition

    Posted on 11/06/2011 by Lisa

    A ton of Nick stars walked the orange carpet at the 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards, and we asked them all, "How Do You HALO?"

    Check out this video of their responses:

    The 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards premiere TONIGHT at 8pm on Nick@Nite!

  • Interview: Emily-Anne Rigal, 2011 HALO Award Winner

    Posted on 11/05/2011 by Lisa

    Emily-Anne Rigal with Nick Cannon
    Emily-Anne Rigal and HALO Awards host Nick Cannon
    Emily-Anne Rigal, 17, was bullied so harshly as a kid that she had to switch schools. That experience lead her to create We Stop Hate, a website where teens make videos to combat bullying. I interviewed Emily-Anne while she was in Hollywood for the HALO Awards ceremony, and she gave me a We Stop Hate wristband. (Thanks, Emily-Anne!)

    Can you talk a little about what you're doing with what We Stop Hate?
    We raise teen esteem as a way to stop bullying, because if you're happy with yourself, you don't put others down. We post one video a week where someone shares a story about an insecurity they overcame or their favorite confidence tip or trick. Sometimes we have celebrities. We basically make online videos as a way to promote raising self-esteem.

    How did it all start?
    So, I had been making Youtube videos since I was a freshman in high school. They were comedy videos. I taped my family doing funny things, and my friends and I. There was some vlogging, just talking about things I cared about, but it was very Emily-Anne based, as opposed to We Stop Hate, which is more about creating a platform for other people to share things. It was a hobby, and I ended up loving it so much that I would do it all the time, and some of the Youtubers became my closest friends, and we talked all the time and would video chat.

    It was just a really great community, and I had about 5000 subscribers, but some of my friends had like, 100,000 subscribers. And I was like, "Why don't we spread some positive message, as opposed to all of us just making comedy videos?" And the reason I chose self-esteem is because I was bullied when I was younger. I ended up switching schools, and it was just a really bad experience. I had body image issues because of it, and at the time, I just felt so bad about myself. I changed schools and made a lot of friends, and then gradually, my self-confidence increased. By the time I was making videos on the internet, I wasn't having those same issues, but I realized that some kids at my school were. I was like, I want to help them, because I can relate to what they're going through. So that's how We Stop Hate came about.

    Was there anything that you found really challenging as you were developing We Stop Hate?
    I found it challenging at first to share my idea with others and have them come on board. Sometimes people can be hesitant, because self-esteem sounds like what your guidance counselor talks about, and I wanted to have cool Youtubers make videos. I had to really share my story and talk about why it is so important to do this, and get them on board. I was just really authentic, and I told them what I wanted to do, and one by one people turned around and we ended up making our own phrase, "teen esteem." I felt like people could identify with it, and make their own definition.

    What has been your proudest moment? Is there one moment that stands out in your memory?
    I was on a panel about teen activism two weeks ago. I remember looking at the kids who were sitting there, and I thought to myself as I was sitting down... two years ago -- almost to that day two years ago -- I was at an empowerment event in Washington, D.C. I hadn't thought of We Stop Hate, I wasn't doing self-esteem things. I was just a kid, just like them, who wanted to do something. And so the first thing I said on that panel was, "I just wanna make it clear that I was in your seats only two years ago, and I'm not better than you. In only two years, I went from sitting there with no idea for this to being on a panel doing this." That moment meant a lot to me, but like, I feel like I could write a novel, there have been so many moments.

    Emily-Anne with HALO winners, Kyle, Shanoah, and James
    Emily-Anne with HALO winners, Kyle, Shanoah, and James
    So when you're building someone's self-esteem, you're also kind of empowering them to help the community, too. That's great.
    I feel like that's a big part of self-esteem, because self-esteem is based on doing "esteemable acts." So when you're doing something that you care about, you're building your self-esteem. It just feels good to give back, and I wish more kids realized that and felt more empowered to do that.

    What advice would you give someone who has never really volunteered or started getting involved in their community?
    I would say to help one person, because I think that will give you the confidence to believe in helping more. So I think, find a person, and it can be someone at your school. It doesn't need to be wrapped up with a pretty bow -- just reach out to someone that you think needs to be reached out to.

    What's one thing everyone who reads this could do today to help We Stop Hate?
    Watch our videos. Check out our website and our Facebook, watch our videos, and share them.

    What was the whole experience like of winning a HALO? How did they surprise you?
    I was interning at Seventeen magazine this summer, and I was told that we were going to do a feature piece about We Stop Hate. I was editing a video with a bunch of the Seventeen editors helping me. I had watched the HALO Awards in the past, so when Nick Cannon came in, I knew exactly what it was, and I was just DYING. [Watch the show to find out what happens next!]

    You were familiar with the HALO Awards? That's awesome! So how did it go from that to meeting Lady Gaga?
    I didn't know Lady Gaga was the celebrity, and I went to lunch with one of the producers of the show, and I didn't even want to mention Lady Gaga, because I thought they would laugh at me... and then it was Lady Gaga. One of the camera people told me my facial expressions were like, "That looks like Lady Gaga, but that CAN'T be Lady Gaga... oh my god, that's LADY GAGA!" [Watch the show to find out what happens next!]

    Aside from meeting her, did anything about Lady Gaga surprise you?
    No! I expected her to be super-authentic, and she was. I did an interview with Nickelodeon before I won the HALO, and they were like "Who do you admire?" And I was like "Lady Gaga, because of what she stands for." I feel like she lived up to all of my expectations.

    Anything last bits of advice for HALO viewers?
    The message I really want to send is that making a difference is about doing what you can, with what you have, where you are. I think the beautiful thing about HALO is that it's regular kids, and anyone can do it.

    Watch Emily-Anne helping and leading others on the 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards, premiering Sunday, Nov. 6th at 8pm on Nick@Nite. Follow @WeStopHate and @Schmiddlebopper on Twitter, and watch a few WeStopHate videos!

    Emily-Anne Rigal and Lady Gaga
    Emily-Anne Rigal and Lady Gaga!

  • The Degrassi cast HALOs it up.

    Posted on 11/03/2011 by Lisa

    Charlotte Arnold (Holly J on Degrassi) with TeenNick blogger Lisa Beebe
    Charlotte Arnold (Holly J on Degrassi) with TeenNick blogger Lisa Beebe

    How does the Degrassi cast HALO? I met Charlotte Arnold (Holly J) at the HALO Awards ceremony, and we talked about how the cast travels to places like Kenya, India, and Ecuador to help others. Watch three of those trips on TeenNick this week!

    Tonight at 8pm et, we're showing Degrassi: Doing What Matters, about the cast's trip to Kenya. Friday at 8pm et, we're showing Degrassi in India, and Saturday at 8pm et, we're showing Degrassi in Ecuador.

    Here are a few pictures from their travels:

    Degrassi in Kenya!
    Charlotte Arnold and Ray Ablack in Ecuador
    Sarah Barrable- Tishauer in Ecuador
    Degrassi castmembers in Ecuador

  • Interview: Kyle Weiss, 2011 HALO Award Winner

    Posted on 11/02/2011 by Lisa

    Kyle Weiss at the W Hotel
    Kyle at the W Hotel
    Kyle Weiss, 18, of Danville, California, started FUNDaFIELD, an organization that raises funds to build soccer fields in developing countries. Kyle's HALO match is soccer player and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham. Kyle and the other 2011 TeenNick HALO Award winners flew out to LA for the ceremony, and I got to hang out with him for a while in the lobby of the W Hotel in Hollywood.

    So FUNDaFIELD started after a trip to the World Cup, right? Can you talk about that a little?
    In 2006, when I was 13, I went to Germany with my brother and my parents, and we talked to some Angola fans. They were only a small section of the stadium -- a sliver of red -- and they were like the luckiest people in the country to be there, because it was Angola's first trip to the World Cup after 26 years of civil war.

    After we talked to the fans, we wanted to send some equipment over or do something to help. I think what really sparked it for me, was when we came back and told a bunch of our friends who played soccer, and all of them really got into it. We were gonna send some equipment over. We were soccer kids, it just seemed like a good idea. We weren't really thinking it through at the time. Someone said "Oh, we should build a field first and send equipment, and they can hold tournaments."

    What has been your proudest moment with FUNDaFIELD?
    In 2008, we went to South Africa and we held this huge tournament to open up our first field. We gave all the kids jerseys we brought over in boxes. Then we went back during this World Cup, and they didn't know we were coming. We didn't even know which day we were gonna get there. We're driving through one of the villages, and we saw like 30 kids and they had on our jerseys and T-shirts. Some of the kids on our team who had been on the earlier trip were like "I gave that kid that jersey!"

    At another one of our tournaments, for one of the games, they had the "Big Mommas" play. It was like, the teachers at the school vs. the moms in the community. When one of the teams scored, all the grandmas did a lap around the field, yelling to celebrate. That was really cool.

    So the whole community gets involved?
    Oh, yeah. There' ll be like 2000 people at a tournament, which you know... in Africa, there's no social media. They tell us that it's the biggest thing that's ever happened in the community.

    How did you get all the donations to Africa?
    For the fields, we hired people over there, and for the equipment, we'd lay it out in our garage, in piles two to three feet off the ground, and we'd spend hours sorting. Like "We need large pink jerseys. We need large blue jerseys. We need small green shorts." We have a system now where we wrap it all up, tape it up, and put it in boxes, and we carry it over on the plane as our extra box. That's kind of a requirement to go on our trips... you have to carry a box of equipment over.

    Did anything about visiting Africa surprise you?
    You think that because people have such hard lives, it would be recognizable, but they're so much NICER there. Everyone is so much more appreciative. Even if they can't feed their own family, if you're visiting their house, they will make a feast for you. They will figure out a way, and they will love the fact that you're eating in their house. It's really cool. Everyone should get to Africa.

    Kyle Weiss at the 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards
    Kyle on the Halo Awards orange carpet
    It seems like the work you've done with FUNDaFIELD has taken you awesome places in your life. What advice would you give to someone who has never volunteered before?
    For me, it's always a question of passion or things you're interested in. There are a lot of causes that are awesome, and I say I'd love to help out, but realistically, I probably never would. But with this, I'm doing soccer, and my family is a crazy soccer family, so for us, half the time, we're working -- and we're working REALLY hard -- but it's fun. Like, we can go play soccer, you know? It's a good time. Finding things that you actually care about makes it so much easier. Every passion has some cause associated with it.

    What would you like to see FUNDaFIELD accomplish in the future?
    As a team, our goal is that in every community that's gone through some kind of traumatic experience, they'll have a soccer field at a school. That helps keep the kids in school, because if there's a soccer field, they want to go to school.

    When you won the HALO Award, how did Nick Cannon surprise you?
    They told us they were filming a short video clip, and they interviewed some of our team members. They were filming our FUNDaFIELD team meeting and...[Watch the show to find out what happens next!]

    What was meeting David Beckham like?
    I was getting ready to go to college -- I go to Claremont McKenna -- and they flew me down to LA like two days before college started. I had my suspicions that it would be something soccer related. We went to the Home Depot Center, and that's where the Galaxy plays. When I got to the stadium, I didn't know what player I'd be meeting. You can never assume it's Beckham, because he's one of the biggest players in the world. They had me walking around the stadium, and then I walked into a room, and he was just sitting there... [Watch the show to find out what happens next!]

    What was he like in person?
    He was really nice and down to earth. Not shy, but like... really nice. He was doing this press conference, and while we were waiting for them to film, he was joking about how he never knows what to do when the cameras are on him. He's an underwear model and a world-class soccer player, but he's so nice, just quiet and laughing. He was a really cool guy.

    Watch Kyle helping and leading others on the 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards, premiering Nov. 6th at 8pm on Nick@Nite. Follow @KyleDavidWeiss and @FUNDaFIELD on Twitter, and check out the FUNDaFIELD website!

    Kyle Weiss and David Beckham
    Kyle Weiss and David Beckham!

  • Interview: Shanoah Washington, 2011 HALO Award Winner

    Posted on 10/29/2011 by Lisa

    Shanoah Washington at the 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards
    Shanoah on the orange carpet
    Shanoah Washington, 18, of St. Petersburg, Florida, created Sista2Sista, a mentoring program for young girls in her community. Shanoah's HALO match is Jessica Biel, who works with Girl Up to help give girls in developing countries a better future. Shanoah and the other 2011 TeenNick HALO Award winners flew out to LA for the ceremony this week, and I got to interview her in the fancypants lobby of the W Hotel in Hollywood.

    Can you tell me how Sista2Sista got started?
    It started with an 11 year-old girl. She had moved from foster home to foster home, and nobody could control her. She was doing crazy things and acting out. She was going through so much. She was in my poetry class, and seeing the things that she went through and knowing what I went through... we had a similar story in certain aspects. That's how Sista2Sista got started. I was just thinking "You know what, let me start a mentoring program." There are tons of other girls out there who have the same stories and need someone to talk to, someone to let them know "It's OK that this happened to you, but you don't have to suffer as a victim from it all the time."

    From there, did you recruit other volunteers to help?
    I talked to my mom and my grandma and Miss Juanita Suber. They liked the idea, and they were just like "Yeah, yeah, let's do this." So Miss Juanita formed the board for Sista2Sista. We're housed right now in the Royal Theater Boys & Girls Club Performing Arts Academy. There were already students there, and we gave an open invitation.

    Shanoah Washington at the 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards
    Shanoah with Leon Thomas and Avan Jogia of Victorious
    What has been your proudest moment with Sista2Sista?
    My proudest moment, as of right now, is the TeenNick HALO Awards! But, besides the TeenNick HALO Awards, my proudest moment was our culmination ceremony where the girls who went through the etiquette program received one credit for a social science in high school. Even if they weren't in high school, they still received it, so it goes on their transcript for when they get there. All of my babies graduated with their credits!

    What advice would you give someone who has never volunteered or been involved in their community?
    If you have never volunteered, you are not fulfilling your purpose in life. I feel like everyone is here to leave their mark on this world and make it better than it was before they were born into it.

    What would you say to people who think it takes up a lot of time, or that it's boring?
    When you normally ask someone, "Will you come and volunteer for my mentoring program?" they're like "No, that's gonna take up so much of my time!" But if you think about it like this... If everyone in the entire world donates one hour of their time, that goes from one hour to like 7 BILLION hours worth of volunteering and impacting a child's life to make them a better person. For each hour you spend with another person, helping them and making them feel better than they felt before you came into their life, your cool points go up higher.

    I totally agree. What's your biggest dream for Sista2Sista in the future?
    My biggest dream is that through our career and entrepreneurial development program, all of my young ladies can have their own businesses that can potentially help other people, and that by the time they're 30, they'll all be able to retire!

    How did the whole experience go with Nick Cannon?
    He surprised me at The Poetry Spot. They kept telling me "Do you think you can just do one poem at let someone else go?" and I was like "No, because I'm the feature, which means I have to do my five poems, and then other people can go." Then he came back and was like "How about four, how about three?" So finally it was my turn to go, and they cut me while I was doing poetry! And I'm like "NO THEY DID NOT!" And so then they were like "The next poet coming to the mic is Nick Cannon!" and so I'm like, "Aww, man, that's really cool, someone has the same name as Nick Cannon!" And then he walks through the audience really slow and he gets to the front, and he's like "You guuuuyyyys!" and we're just like "It's Nick Cannon, this isn't real." [Watch the show to find out what happens next!]

    And how did you meet Jessica Biel?
    They flew me to Miami to get an emergency passport, and then they flew me to Canada to meet my match, and they were like "You're going to meet this girl who's just like you!" and I was like "Oh, maybe it's Emily-Anne! I'm gonna meet Emily-Anne, we're gonna get mani-pedis, we'll talk about girl stuff and have tea and do stuff like that." So I get to this very nice hotel, and they had a red carpet outside... [Watch the show to find out what happens next!]

    Prior to meeting Jessica Biel, I just thought she was like every other celebrity, but she's not. She's very down to earth. She didn't even want to be called Jessica -- she wanted to be called Jessie. I chilled with her mom, "Mama Biel," who's a spiritual healer, and her assistant, Lauren, who is really awesome.

    Those are all my questions. Is there anything else you want to talk about?
    My little sister, Shanyjah Williams! Her birthday is on the same day that we're filming the HALO Awards, and she's turning five, but we won't be back until Monday.


    Watch Shanoah helping and leading others on the 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards, premiering Nov. 6th at 8pm on Nick@Nite.

  • Want to feel The HALO Effect?

    Posted on 10/29/2011 by Lisa

    Inspired by the TeenNick HALO Awards, the HALO Effect is a way for visitors to to help others. Complete "Quests" on this site, and you'll earn points that you can trade in for a donation to is a site where school teachers from all over the United States post requests for supplies they need (like scientific equipment, journals for a writing class, or musical instruments for the school band). If you earn enough HALO Effect coins, you'll be able to make a $5 donation to any project you choose.

    It's an awesome way to support education, and it's easy, too. All you have to do is use this site! Check out the blue bar at the top of this page to get started.

    The 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards honorees
    The 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards honorees, about to walk the orange carpet -- and all the way on the right, behind Kyle's shoulder, that's Charlotte Arnold from Degrassi! :)