YA Impact 2020

Tyler Clementi Foundation Youth Ambassadors prevent and interrupt bullying in schools across the country. Their actions create lasting change by raising awareness about the harmful effects of bullying. The Fall 2020 Youth Ambassador cohort collectively achieved the following milestones:

  • Shared the Tyler Clementi Foundation #Day 1 program with over 1,000 students
  • Recruited over 2,000 individuals to sign the Tyler Clementi Foundation #Upstander pledge. 
  • Raised awareness on social media with messages reaching over 5,000 users.
  • Founded clubs and local organizations with a total membership of over 100 students.
  • Created original content including videos, lesson plans, and musical performances shared with over 500 individuals
  • Visited elementary and middle school classrooms to facilitate original lessons and projects promoting kindness and empathy. 
  • Volunteered over 500 hours of their time toward interrupting and preventing bullying in their communities. 

 

This amazing group dedicated themselves to promoting #Upstander behavior each day. Individually, they completed a variety of anti-bullying actions by starting clubs,

volunteering in classrooms, organizing assemblies, producing videos, coordinating social media campaigns, and much more. Learn more about their efforts and accomplishments below. Keep reading to meet Anushka Dalvi, Katherine Gelshenen, Shreya Krishnan, Jared Orlov, Melissa Reifman, Abby James-Vickery, Michael Reifman, Pelin E. Cokuslu, and Emma Balfay.

Youth Ambassadors participate in monthly research-based, interactive, virtual learning sessions on various topics including cyberbullying, effective communication, and #Upstander strategies. They also develop relationships with peers and receive 1-1 coaching for event coordination and production. They turn inspiration and learning into action by coordinating two anti-bullying actions.


Spring 2020 Cohort Impact

Anushka Dalvi

“I joined the youth ambassadors program last year because I have always been in a safe space and have never experienced bullying. Reading the news, it upsets me that not everyone has a safe and comfortable environment. This is why I want to take an initiative to help others live in a positive community”.

Background: Anushka is a first-year student at the University of Michigan where she is studying Biology pre-med. She aspires to become a medical professional. 

Anti-Bullying Achievements: 

  • Created the Kindness Grows program at her High School in Troy, Michigan. This innovative program promoted a more positive school culture by providing students the opportunity to publicly share kindness and appreciation for one another. 
  • Raised Awareness at Health Occupation Students of America chapter meetings, through which Anushka educated young people on issues related to mental health and bullying. Aligned with her interest in a medical career, she is interested in how experiences with bullying have the potential to affect anxiety and depression. 
  • Produced an educational video series on bullying, kindness, mental health, and stress response. 
  • Influenced her peers through the use of social media by posting about the need for kind actions and #Upstander behaviors. 
  • Recruited over 100 of her peers to sign the Tyler Clementi Foundation #Upstander pledge.

 

Katherine Gelshenen

“I believe that the best way to prevent bullying is to begin teaching acceptance, respect, and inclusion from a young age. My goal is to help children build awareness of how to help others and themselves deal with bullying and to be positive role models in their communities.”

Background: Katherine is a Junior at Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Through a variety of volunteer roles, she has dedicated herself to promoting awareness of acceptance, respect, and inclusion among young children.

Anti-Bullying Achievements:

  • Co-founded #Day 1 Reps of Bergen County, trained a group of eighteen Bergen County High School students to coordinate #Day 1 events and other anti-bullying actions in their schools. 
  • Co-founded #Day 1 Leaders of New Jersey and #Day 1 Reps of New Jersey, a program that works with over 60 students from around New Jersey to coordinate #Day 1 events and other actions. 
  • Co-created the #Upstander Challenge, a bullying prevention video challenge along with #Day 1 Reps from around Bergen County. 
  • Facilitated several #Day 1 Reps meetings and events that raised awareness about the harmful effects of bullying and the importance of #Upstander behavior.
  • Coordinated a #Day 1 assembly at Ramsey High School in which over 500 students participated in #Day 1 and signed the #Upstander pledge. 

Shreya Krishnan

“Bullying is a serious issue that we can address through kindness, compassion, and empathy, but also by exploring the impact of hurtful words and actions through art.”

Background: Shreya is a Junior at Discovery Canyon Campus in Colorado Springs. She is a musician and dancer who volunteers her time teaching these skills to young students.

Anti-Bullying Achievements:

  • Advocated for anti-bullying policies as the spokesperson for the anti-bullying and suicide prevention campaign spearheaded by the Colorado Springs Conservatory. Through this program, Shreya spoke to over 10,000 elementary and middle school students in the Pikes Peak region. She also delivered her anti-bullying message to the Colorado Springs City Council and El Paso County Commissioners meetings.
  • Served as Young Champion Ambassador for the City of Colorado Springs, a youth leadership program, through which Shreya was selected to be a torchbearer for the Tokyo Olympic Games in Ancient Olympia Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics.
  • Composed and performed original music and dance performances for students that address the dangers of bullying and the need for kindness, compassion, and empathy. 

Jared Orlov

“I believe that my personal mission is to help others to the best of my ability, thus ensuring a better future for the following generations. I do this by preventing and intervening in bullying, working to end prejudice, bias, bigotry, and by raising awareness about its implications for suicidal thoughts and actions.”

Background: Jared Orlov is a 16-year-old social activist in New York City who hopes to become a kindergarten teacher and model behaviors that help kids develop and nurture kindness, which he believes can create profound change. Jared believes if children develop kindness and thoughtfulness at a young age, they will be less prone to bullying others and more prone to working to understand others.

Anti-Bullying Achievements:

  • Created original lesson plans for elementary and middle school students about social-emotional learning and anti-bullying skills. Available for download here.
  • Volunteered at his Taekwondo Dojang to deliver the #Day 1 program and #Upstander pledge to over 100 students.
  • Taught lessons to younger students about how to be kind and supportive to each other, and how to look out for kids who feel isolated. He emphasized the value of cooperation and the concept of the “indomitable spirit” – when you get knocked down, you get right back up again; you may have a bad day being bullied, but hang on to your self-worth and keep moving forward.
Melissa Reifman

“Combating bullying became an important cause for me after seeing its devastating effects in the news, particularly in the form of youth suicides. Seeing kids younger than me taking their lives because of others’ mean words and actions broke my heart and motivated me to start making a difference.”

Background: “Melissa Reifman is a High School Senior from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. At her school, she is Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, lead defense attorney on  the Mock Trial Team, and President of Rotary Club. Outside of school, Melissa enjoys teaching and practicing taekwondo, as well as volunteering with her town’s historical society.”

Anti-Bullying Achievements:

  • Created an initiative called P.A.S.T. Bullying, which stands for Putting A Stop To Bullying. The week-long campaign included daily PSA’s (public service announcements), hand-outs, as well as an evening program. At the program, she interviewed Mrs. Clementi about her son Tyler, as well as Jenna Rose, who faced bullying as the result of a viral YouTube video.
  • Facilitated an anti-bullying workshop for middle school girls as well as made cards and bracelets for victims of bullying. In addition to preventing bullying, Melissa is passionate about her schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
  • Co-founded #Day 1 Reps of Bergen County, trained a group of eighteen Bergen County High School students to coordinate #Day 1 events and other anti-bullying actions in their schools. 
  • Co-founded #Day 1 Leaders of New Jersey and #Day 1 Reps of New Jersey, a program that works with over 60 students from around New Jersey to coordinate #Day 1 events and other actions. 
  • Co-created the #Upstander Challenge (below), a bullying prevention video challenge along with #Day 1 Reps from around Bergen County. 
  • Facilitated several #Day 1 Reps meetings and events that raised awareness about the harmful effects of bullying and the importance of #Upstander behavior.
  • Coordinated a #Day 1 assembly at Ramsey High School in which over 500 students participated in #Day 1 and signed the #Upstander pledge. 

Abby James-Vickery

“I have always had an interest in raising awareness of bullying, especially when it has to do with race, gender, sexuality, and religion. I believe that people deserve to be themselves without fear of what others will do and that kids should live their life to the fullest and be accepted.”

Background: Abby James-Vickery is a 17-year-old high school student in Hackensack, New Jersey. Abby is president of the Social Justice Club at her school and serves as treasurer of the student council and is a member of the Spanish Honor Society. She became involved in TCF by joining #Day 1 Reps.

  • Designed and implemented a two-week anti-bullying Instagram campaign in cooperation with her High School’s guidance department. Anti-bullying posts reached over 3,700 Instagram users and her stories were viewed by nearly 5,000 individuals.
  • Currently coordinating an anti-bullying digital design poster contest in tandem with her high school’s art and digital design departments.

 

Michael Reifman

“I applied to be a Youth Ambassador after seeing the amazing of the Tyler Clementi Foundation. I wanted to take part in their mission to stop online and offline bullying.”

Background: Michael is a sophomore at Northern Highlands Regional High School. He is involved in his school newspaper, A Capella, and Model UN.

Anti-Bullying Achievements

  • Co-founded #Day 1 Reps of Bergen County, trained a group of eighteen Bergen County High School students to coordinate #Day 1 events and other anti-bullying actions in their schools. 
  • Co-founded #Day 1 Leaders of New Jersey and #Day 1 Reps of New Jersey, a program that works with over 60 students from around New Jersey to coordinate #Day 1 events and other actions. 
  • Co-created the #Upstander Challenge (below), a bullying prevention video challenge along with #Day 1 Reps from around Bergen County. 
  • Facilitated several #Day 1 Reps meetings and events that raised awareness about the harmful effects of bullying and the importance of #Upstander behavior.

Pelin E. Cokuslu

“I have always had a deep curiosity for learning all branches of knowledge. I wanted to live out Tyler Clementi Foundation’s mission to prevent bullying by educating young children on the important virtue of empathy in my local community.”

Background: Pelin E. Cokuslu is a 15-year-old sophomore in Fairview, New Jersey. She attends Cliffside Park High School.

Anti-Bullying Achievements:

  • Founder and President of Bergen Young Leaders for Kindness and Empathy (BYLKE). BYLKE’s mission is to put an end to bullying and discrimination by educating elementary school students about core values of acceptance, diversity, kindness, empathy, and respect.
  • Designed original lesson plans for BYLKE’s partnership with elementary teachers which focused on promoting social-emotional skills for bullying prevention.
  • Served as a program leader in the #Day 1 Reps program. 

Emma Balfay

 

“As a friend and ally to the LGBTQ+ community, I have dedicated my life and time to making the school environment a better place for teens of different gender identities and sexualities. Being born and raised in Texas, one of the most diverse places in the nation, but also one of the least accepting states in the nation, has become integral to my identity as well as my motivation for activism.”

Background: Emma Balfay is a 15-year-old sophomore at McKinney Boyd High School living in McKinney, Texas. Emma’s goal is to encourage inclusivity and diversity throughout all high schools in America. Emma first started taking action in middle school as a part of the YMCA’s Youth and Government program, which awakened her to the disparity in equality legislation towards LGBTQ+ people; forming her end goal of changing legislation in Texas to become more inclusive and fair towards all Texans. 

Anti-Bullying Achievements:

  • Founded Students for Diversity and Inclusion (SDI), which provides information, assistance, opportunities to students concerning issues of equal opportunity, microaggressions, racism, and discrimination.
  • Represented the student body on the district’s Equity board, advising on issues including curriculum and school policy. 
  • Served as a member of her local chapter of Diversify our Narrative, which works to bring more inclusive and anti-racist texts into schools.

Read more about the incredible impact the Youth Ambassadors made in 2019.

Read more about the incredible impact the Youth Ambassadors made in 2018.

#Day1 Video

#Day1 Across the Nation