Recognize the beauty that you have – whether it’s your eyes, your skin color, your smile, or your hair!

“I’m smart” and “I have the ability to do anything” are a couple of the self-affirmations second-graders in Ivan Marrero’s class proclaimed confidently into a mirror their teacher put in front of them.

The now-viral video has been applauded for its simplicity and wholesomeness and has been drawing attention to the Brooklyn teacher who posted it.

Ivan Marrero teaches performing arts to children in grade two at the Excellence Boys Charter School in Brooklyn, New York.

When working through his lesson planning, Marrero decided to create a session on being authentic and encouraging his students to be their real selves. How best to do that than with the students crafting their own self-affirmations?

Self-Love Is Crucial

“I thought it was important for our boys to be able to affirm themselves, to be able to be happy with who they are,” Marrero told USA TODAY. “Boys are taught to be tough, to stand up for themselves, to just sit back and watch. But with these boys, we want to make sure that we’re able to recognize the beauty that we have, whether it’s your eyes, your skin color, your smile, your hair.”

Marrero asked each of the boys to walk up to a mirror and say something they love about themself to themself. He recorded the boys and found himself stunned by what he heard.

“It was from the heart. It was true. Each and every one of them,” he said. “It wasn’t rehearsed, and it was just an amazing video from there.”

Boy after boy walked up to a mirror. While some spoke with confidence, some shied away. The boys’ smiles they shared during the simple act of self-love were contagious.

“One thing I like about myself is I’m a great listener,” one boy proclaimed.

“One thing I love about myself is I have the ability to do anything,” said another boy.

“I like my skin color” shared another.

A Beautiful Moment Goes Viral

The teacher uploaded the video to his Instagram page and was overwhelmed by the stream of positive reactions to the video. Other little boys who’ve been inspired to create the same type of self-affirmations on their own have also contacted him. Marrero’s video has since gone viral.

Followers have praised Marrero’s creativity with comments including: “This was such a refreshing thing to see. We need more of this”, “our future black kings” and “thank you for shepherding these young princes towards a bright future.”

Excellence Boys Charter School Principal Jaz Grant praised Marrero’s lesson and said he wishes he had the same type of encouragement growing up. Like many men, he was taught to be tough.

“So for us, we are trying to get powerful ways to tap into their inner emotions, their inner self at a much earlier age, so that they don’t have to face some of the battles and insecurities and things that we went through,” Grant told USA TODAY. He followed with the remark that every school should have a teacher like Marrero.

Excellence Boys Elementary Academy is an all-boys school located in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. The school has operated in Brooklyn since 2004, is free to attend, and is open to all families in New York City. After finishing elementary, students have the opportunity to attend Excellence Boys Middle Academy for grades five to eight, and Uncommon Schools high school for grades nine to twelve.

Be Kind to Yourself Today

Ivan Marrero explained the importance of every student finding a way to love himself or herself and be happy in their own skin. He explained that, “Boys are taught to be tough, to stand up for themselves, to just sit back and watch. But with these boys, we want to make sure that we’re able to recognize the beauty that we have, whether it’s your eyes, your skin color, your smile, your hair.”

Marrero’s Instagram post included his own description of the activity:

In Performing Arts this week I have my boys learning about what it means to be ‘authentic, bona fide, and genuine.’

Performing Arts is inclusive, it encourages acceptance. My boys learn empathy and this helps them accept one another and treat each other with respect. Performing Arts also increases one’s sense of self, my boys who participate show stronger self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-trust. My boys can learn to be authentic each and every day, but first, they must recognize how amazing they are as a person.

Go ahead and be kind to yourself today!