Spotlight on youth: A youth led organization stands out on the world stage on anti-bullying.
Youth are an important part of our community and one organization makes it to the world stage with a focus on empowering their peers to speak up and speak out.
Presenters Tuan Graziano, Taylor Heckard, and Olivia Tafs make up half of the group that presented at the World Anti-Bullying Forum in Dublin, Ireland.
"It was great to represent our state, our city our home as well as represent the values of our city," said Graziano.
Not only did the group stand out because they were from Alaska, but they were the only youth presenters.
"It was really great for us not only to be able to present but also kind of give people an idea of what young people can do in the field of anti-bullying if they're given the opportunity to," said Tafs.
The hour-long presentation focused on how to empower youth through building resiliency and strengthening confidence. Something Heckard could relate to.
"I was bullied a little bit in elementary and middle school," she said.
So for her, it's become a personal passion.
"Giving other people that voice and being able to see the stuff that we're working on is actually making a difference and helping people I mean there's nothing better, honestly I just love doing it," Heckard added.
Graziano talked about how bullying doesn't always have to come from behind a screen.
"I still think though it's very much part of understanding yourself and a face to face thing as well," he said.
Tafs added what adults can do to help empower youth.
"Actually listening to young people and their everyday experiences are and not just making assumptions about what they might be dealing with can really help when we're trying to prevent bullying and enrich people's lives in the best possible way," she said.
In the end, the teens want others to know that voices are meant to be heard and that organizations like Youth Vote and Story Works Alaska are there for youth to speak up.
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