Youth Ambassadors

Table of Contents

Program Overview

 

Students who join the Tyler Clementi Foundation Youth Ambassadors program participate in the following ways:

  • Gather virtually every month to build community, develop new skills, and learn about a variety of issues related to bullying and cyberbullying. Students also gain perspective by learning about the experiences of a diverse group of peers.
  • Promote Upstander behavior, kindness, and inclusion in their community by implementing Tyler Clementi Foundation’s Upstander pledge and #Day 1 program.
  • Meet individually every month with Tyler Clementi Foundation staff for advising, coaching, and support related to their anti-bullying projects. 
  • Learn from the experiences of current and former Youth Ambassadors.
  • Develop a portfolio of anti-bullying milestones and accomplishments.

Learning Experience

Students who join the Tyler Clementi Foundation Youth Ambassadors have opportunities to learn and discuss the following topics:

  • Anti-bullying 101, best practices for preventing, interrupting, and reporting bullying behaviors, and tools for promoting Upstander behavior;
  • Tyler’s story and the history of the Tyler Clementi Foundation;
  • Strategies for creating a more positive school culture;
  • Promoting acceptance and inclusion among their peers;
  • Youth organizing tactics for policy change;
  • Effective communication and public speaking;
  • Safe and productive social-media use; 
  • Coordinating transformative events for education, raising awareness, fundraising, and community building. 
  • The basics of starting a student organization and mobilizing students to volunteer; 
  • Addressing implicit bias and discrimination;
  • Awareness of issues related to systemic inequality; 
  • Mental health as it relates to individuals’ experiences with bullying;
  • Writing and teaching lesson plans that address bullying and group dynamics;
  • Creating and publishing anti-bullying digital content including audio, video, and writing. 

How to Apply for Youth Ambassadors

Check back in December 2022 for application information.

At the Tyler Clementi Foundation, we believe that achieving our goal of ending bullying in schools should be led by ambitious, talented, and compassionate youth across the country. We welcome applications from High School and College-aged youth (13-20) who are interested in volunteering their time to coordinate anti-bullying projects in their community. International students are welcome to apply, however, they are required to attend evening meetings held between 5-7 pm EST. 

The application window for the spring cohort is January 1 – January 21. Spring cohort applications will be accepted in January. The spring program runs from February to December. In order to participate, applicants must sign and return a consent form along with a recent photo of themselves. Participation requires an internet connection and computer with video conference capabilities or a mobile phone. In order to be considered for Youth Ambassadors, applicants must be enrolled as a student at the high school or college level. Please email Youth Ambassador Coordinator Chelsea Stack (Chelsea@TylerClementi.org) if you have any questions.

Spring 2022 Cohort 

These dedicated students will be volunteering their time as Tyler Clementi Foundation Youth Ambassadors from April 2022 – to February 2023 to plan anti-bullying projects in their communities. Learn more about Annabelle, Aya, Caelyn, Caroline, Dylan, Eman, Emma, Gabrielle, Jaylyn, Jeff, Joel, Justin, Karley, Lindsay, Maddie, Maya, Paloma, Rakshit, Sara, Sean, Yema, and Zoey. 

Annabelle Bagdon

This is Annabelle‘s second year as a youth ambassador with the Tyler Clementi Foundation (TCF). Annabelle is a 10th grade student at Sanford school, where she participates in clubs such as GSA, Litmag, and the TCF/Anti-Bullying club that she started as a youth ambassador last year. She loves the performing arts. She has been a part of 6 theater productions at Sanford. She is a member of her schools chorus, and recently participated in the Delaware Allstate Chorus. Annabelle runs Cross Country. She loves her community, however, she feels that every place is able to improve even more. She hopes that she is able to spread TCF’s values to empower those in the community to stand up for what is right. It is Annabelle’s goal with the help of the TCF to enact positive change.

 

Jake Summerill Bizzell

Jake Bizzell is a high school junior at Marin Academy in San Rafael, California.  Jake became a YA in 2020, and since then has undertaken anti-bullying activities in both his school and local community.  Working with his school’s parent association, Jake hosted an anti-bullying webinar during which he interviewed Jane Clementi about how parents can stop physical and on-line bullying.  Jake has also published editorials in his local newspaper, including “Marin Voice: Shocking increase in suicide rates of gay youth deserves our attention.” In October 2021, Jake helped to plan, write, and advocate for a resolution by the Marin County Board of Supervisors proclaiming October 2021 as Bullying Prevention and Awareness Month.  He also served as the Captain of the YA Team during the Foundations’ 2021 Kindness Campaign Fundraiser.  Aside from being a YA, Jake serves on the Marin County Youth Commission, where he is on the Mental Health Subcommittee and focuses on issues such as youth depression, anxiety, and suicide in the Bay Area.  He is working closely with the county’s Health and Human Services Department to revise its Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan.  To relax, Jake enjoys hiking in the Marin Headlands and sailing on the San Francisco Bay. 

 

Pelin Cokuslu 

Pelin E. Cokuslu is a High School Senior from Fairview, New Jersey. At school, she is the President and Founder of BYLKE and is an award-recipient member of the Academic Decathlon team. Outside of school, she has been a student at the Thurnauer School of Music since the age of 6, and is the Leader of the #Day1 Representatives of Bergen County. She is a member of the National Honor Society and its Executive Committee. Pelin is motivated by the determination and diligence to help students to find their self-confidence and self-worth whilst navigating life and its obstacles, steadfastly remaining true to themselves. She enthusiastically leads initiatives and volunteers in projects to seize the opportunity of self-growth and development, learning to work with and guide people with diverse identities, values, and perspectives, and finding innovative solutions to combat bullying. 

Anti-Bullying Achievements:

  • Founder and President of the student-led initiative and club 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.

  • Created and Implemented 6-week program “Building with BYLKE” for BYLKE’s partnership with a local elementary school for bullying prevention

  • Designed original lesson plans, presentations, and packets that focused on teaching and practicing one social-emotional learning skill as well as one literary skill each week to guide students on eventually writing their own short stories about these values

  • Trained the Teacher Cohort to teach the lesson plans and materials to the 4th-grade students virtually and in-person as well as the Publication Process Cohort to format and edit the stories in the digital book

  • Published “Superhero Short Stories” which is a book filled with the imaginative, and meaningful fictional short stories of the 4th-grade students

  • Expanding her program to more elementary schools in the local district

  • Served as the #Day1 Representative of Cliffside Park High School

  • Leader of the #Day1 Representatives of Bergen County 

  • Facilitates meetings for BYLKE and #Day1 Reps. of Bergen County

  • Featured in news segment “It’s Cool to be Kind” for Cliffside Park on Demand

  • Incorporates anti-bullying initiatives from the Tyler Clementi Foundation’s #Day 1 program and Upstander Pledge in her school district and local community 

  • Planning a “Let’s Unite Against Bullying on #Day1” event and a “#Upstander Pledge Challenge”

  • Pelin’s Feature on Local News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxiyFKnw8-o

 

 

Joseph Keegan

Joseph Keegan is a junior at Haddonfield Memorial High School, and became a youth ambassador this year to spread the story of Tyler Clementi and to prevent bullying. Being in over fifteen clubs at his high school including drama club and CoEd Acappella has given him an inside scoop into many different crowds at school. Being around so many different people everyday forces Joseph to notice their behavior and how they treat others. Joseph hopes to continue being a token of light to others and a safe person to come to if they are being bullied or if they are anxious. Joseph currently runs a text chain called, “forever4u” that is dedicated to mental health stability and making sure everyone knows there is always an outlet for them to express their feelings. We will stand together and we will stop bullying!   

 

Justin Hargraves

Justin joined the youth ambassador program because he hasn’t always had a safe space where he could openly talk with others without feeling uncomfortable or judged. However, when he did finally experience what it was like to be able to share his experiences and speak comfortably with others that could relate, he realized there were many other people who felt the same way as he did. Because of this, Justin wants to help people realize that they can actively contribute to creating a safe space.

Background: Justin Hargraves is a sophomore at Iona Prep in New Rochelle, NY. He enjoys coding and aspires to pursue a career in computer science and game development after graduation. 

Social activist achievements include:

  • Creating a student diversity council at his school that promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and communication between all students and staff. The council also works on ways to improve the state of the school, based on student feedback.

  • Being actively a part of Iona ACTS, which hosts many bake sales, fundraisers, and social awareness events that raise money for the Tyler Clementi fund, the Trevor project, and more.

  • Attending the Saturday summit on social justice where high school students participated in various social justice workshops and learned how to facilitate difficult discussions.

  • Opening a semi-student forum called s.p.o.t. At his school that stands for safe place for open discussion and is made specifically to present, address, and create solutions to prevalent social issues.

  • A member of Keepers of the Dream Westchester which is a coalition of students across Westchester schools that discuss prevalent issues in today’s society and works to create solutions to these issues.

   

 

 

Sean K. YASean Keiser

Sean Keiser is a 15-year-old student at the Sanford School in Delaware. He enjoys performing in musicals and plays at his school and he is passionate about all things related to performing arts. He currently studies and performs for both voice and piano. He joined Youth Ambassadors to stand up for kids who don’t have anyone to stand up for them and strongly believes that if acting with empathy and kindness helps others to do the same. He is a kind, empathetic and compassionate person who takes pride in helping others in his community feel accepted and comfortable. He looks forward to working to making his school a more positive place by encouraging his peers to prevent and interrupt bullying.  

 

Maddie McGreevy

Maddie YAMaddie McGreevy is a junior at Pemberton Township High School in Pemberton, New Jersey. She applied for Youth Ambassadors in order to end bullying once-and-for-all. Maddie is very passionate about inclusion and diversity and believes in standing up for others as an ally to those who may not have a voice. This is Maddie’s first year as a Youth Ambassador and she is eager to discover more about leadership and being an advocate for others. She currently serves as the President of her school’s chapter of the Interact Club as well as class secretary on the student council. She has also participated in school musicals as a cast member. Outside of school, she spends her time working as Burlington County’s Leader for #Day1 and running her own student organization: poZitive.vibes! She aspires to be on the board of directors of a nonprofit organization that leads the youth of America and beyond to a better future.

 

 

Michael Reifman

Michael Reifman is a 16-year-old from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey and is currently a freshman at Northern Highlands Regional High School. Michael applied to be a Youth Ambassador after seeing the amazing work being done by the Tyler Clementi Foundation and wanted to take part in their mission to stop on and offline bullying. He is involved in his school newspaper, A Capella, and Model UN. 

 

 

 

Anushka Dalvi

is a 18 year old senior in Troy, Michigan. Anushka is confident in voicing her opinions and likes to take initiative. She works well in groups and encourages her peers to work together to achieve their goals.  Anushka is part of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Board (SSAB) in her city’s school district. At SSAB, Anushka represents her school along with her peers where she takes a leadership role in managing and organizing programs like the Martin Luther King (MLK) Day of Service in her school district. 

 

 

Katherine Gelshenen

Katherine Gelshenen is a 16-year-old high school sophomore in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and knows all too well what bullying can do to a person. Through volunteering and tutoring, Katherine has worked with many young kids, some who have been bullied as well as those who were on the other side of the story. Katherine leads in her community by promoting young minds to push themselves past the stereotypes they were given. She is an active member of the Homework Helpers club at her school and has tutored children at the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson. She believes that the best way to prevent bullying is to begin to combat it from a young age and educate people on the different types of bullying. By teaching acceptance, respect, and inclusion, Katie’s 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. 

 

 

 

Jared Orlov

Jared Orlov is a 17-year-old social activist in New York City. His goal is to become a kindergarten teacher and model behaviors that help kids develop and nurture kindness, in which he believes profoundly. That requires working to end prejudice, bias and bigotry to make the world more just. His interest in the Tyler Clementi Foundation was sparked by attending a TCF event, listening to stories about bullying and suicide, and connecting them to his own experiences. As an Upstander, Jared has intervened in bullying situations. He believes that his personal mission is to help others to the best of his ability, thus ensuring a better future for following generations. Jared’s mission is to prevent and intervene in bullying, and to spread the word about its implications for suicidal thoughts and actions.

 

His preferred approach is to affect kids through contact in their everyday lives. Kindness and thoughtfulness can be learned behaviors. Jared believes if children acquire or hone those life skills at a young age, they will be less prone to bullying others and more prone to working to understand others. Jared has worked at his Taekwondo dojang teaching martial arts to children. He has also been a Taekwondo summer camp counselor for 3 years, and is now Lead Junior Counselor. Jared provides kids with concrete, replicable examples of how to be kind and supportive to each other, and how to look out for kids who are isolated. Child by child, Jared emphasizes 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.

 

Julia Sheehan

Julia is very excited for her first year as a YA for the Tyler Clementi Foundation! She is from Brooklyn, New York, and she is a junior at Dominican Academy in Manhattan. There, she is an elected representative on Student Council and is part of an organization called Dominican Academy Preachers (DAPs). With this organization, Julia has helped organize drives for Hour Children and was one of the leaders for DA’s freshman retreat. She is also captain of the varsity swim team. For Julia, school has always been a place where she could find community, friends, and a support system, but she knows this is not universal. She wants to work to create a better community where everyone feels welcome – regardless of race, gender identity, sexuality, ability, and economic status. 

 

 

Avishi Chaudhary

Avishi Chaudhary is a high school senior from Carteret, New Jersey. She likes to help as many people as possible, and for that reason, she is part of many nonprofit organizations at school like Incorruptible US, SADD, letters for rose, and the Carteret Chapter National Honors Society. She is also a part of Choir and the Stage crew of Drama Club, learning to work with machines and other technical work in the theater world. Avishi became the Youth Ambassador so as to make her voice heard at a larger level. This is her first year as a youth ambassador. As a young girl, she always wished to stand on top of a tall mountain and give a big speech against hate crimes, and the other bad things in the world. So being in Tyler Clementi has given her a chance to fulfill her wish, while also being an upstander for an issue that she herself has faced in middle school.

 

 

Audrey Mitros

Audrey Mitros is a 16-year old sophomore from Audubon, New Jersey. At her high school, she has been a #Day1 TCF representative for the last year and is a part of the swim team, track team, Environmental Club, Project Memorial, Spanish Club, band, choir, Interact Club, her school newspaper- The Parrot, and her favorite subject is science. She also spends a lot of time volunteering at her community library, and during the pandemic, she has founded some influential events for it: Safe(r) Space, a program for teens of marginalized identities to meet and feel connected to one another despite the struggles of worldwide shutdowns, and WRDB (We Read Diverse Books)- a program to spotlight a variety of books by diverse authors, because books are one of the most powerful forms of activism. Safe(r) Space received an NJLA Innovative Program Award for recognized excellence within the community in June of 2021. This is her first year as a youth ambassador for the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and she is very excited to make a difference and spread awareness in her community because she believes that change starts within yourself, and when you act with empathy and compassion, it will ripple and pave the way for other people to act with kindness too. She is passionate about stopping bullying in its tracks because no one deserves to feel alone, and being an ally to people who might not always have the opportunity to have a voice is so extraordinarily important. “Try to be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” ~ Maya Angelou.

 

Michaela Lewis

Michaela Lewis is a high school junior from Hackensack, New Jersey. She participates in various extracurriculars including playing volleyball and basketball and participating in clubs like NHS (National Honor Society), PTC (Pathway to College), and SGA (student government). In NHS, Michaela leads the Racial Injustice Committee, with the goal of celebrating different races and cultures, as well as discussing social issues, racial, and other types of discrimination. Additionally, Michaela loves science, with a strong passion for learning medicine and plans to pursue a pre-med track in college. 
 
Her interest in the medical field stems from her desire to help others and make an impact on the world. As a Youth Ambassador for the Tyler Clementi Foundation, her goal is to spread positivity and promote anti-bullying in order to create a sense of unity and acceptance among diverse groups of people in and out of her community. As Bob Marley always said, “One love, one heart.” With the right group of people, unification and love can stop any form of hate.

 

 

Program Impact

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 hear about the great work of Anushka, Katherine, Shreya, Jared, Melissa, Abby, Michael, Pelin, and Emma. 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. 

 

 

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, a 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 2018.

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

Read more about the incredible impact the Youth Ambassadors made in 2020.

Read more about the incredible impact the Youth Ambassadors made in 2021.

 

 

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