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Westwood’s Brianna Anderson makes big differences with little actions

Brianna Anderson and her swimming teammate, Teila.

Westwood High School’s Brianna Anderson hopes she can cause a ripple effect.

She believes that small acts of kindness can make huge differences in the lives of others.

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘If you wait until you can do everything for everybody instead of something for somebody, then you’ll end up doing nothing for nobody,'” Anderson said.

Here’s one example: When Anderson’s aunt in Utah was diagnosed with cancer, her parents needed to house the aunt’s children for several weeks. She used money earned from breeding and selling a litter of puppies to help pay for their plane tickets, then took it upon herself to help take care of the children, including the boy named Andrew, who has down syndrome.

“Growing up with him, I learned that they have the same needs as us — they want to feel loved and accepted,” she said.

Anderson used the experience of growing up with Andrew to do good at school. As co-captain of the swim team, she takes pride in bringing her teammates to accept a girl named Teila, who also has down syndrome.

“At first, she would just stay in the corner. She was kind of scared to go out and swim, she wasn’t really sure of her ability,” Anderson said. “She’d always go in Lane 1, which was the slow lane, and nobody really talked to her. I brought her into my lane, I made sure she was recognized and I made her feel like she was part of the team. Pretty soon she started to open up and she started to talk and she started to laugh.”

Teila blossomed, and Anderson asked the coaches to allow her the opportunity to speak in front of her teammates. It’s brought a diverse group of teammates together and made them more accepting of each other, Anderson said.

Beyond her athletic duties, Anderson has helped two foreign exchange high school students adjust to the American culture and make friends. She volunteers at a retirement care center every Sunday and aids those who are less fortunate through various National Honor Society activities.

She leads a neighborhood youth group for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With the church, she’s spent about 750 hours volunteering for the Mesa Easter Pageant over the past seven years.

Anderson has helped plan a nativity scene in a low-income neighborhood, is a graduate of her LDS seminary and has worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor. She’s a varsity tennis player and violin player in the orchestra, where she is also vice president of the orchestra council.

All in all, Anderson sees herself continuing to help others as she moves beyond high school.

She wants to attend BYU and either become a nurse or elementary school teacher.

Until she decides upon a career path, she’ll continue making little ripples go a long way in her family and her community.