You guys KNOW how much we love a teen-overcomes-bullying-to-do-something-amazing story, and Valerie Weisler’s tormented-high-schooler-turned-badass-teen-CEO is about as Cinderella as these stories get.
As Valerie told CNN Money, her freshman year of high school in the suburbs of New York City was pretty rough.
“Kids would call me mute, make up rumors that I didn’t have the physical capability to speak,” Valerie explained. “It would take me 10 minutes just to talk back to you.”
A short while later, in 2013 when she was still 14 years old, Valerie saw a classmate who was being bullied and body shamed. Knowing EXACTLY what bullying feels like, Valerie later went up to him and told him “You matter.” It was then that this classmate revealed to Valerie that he had planned to kill himself that night, but that her kindness “really validated him.”
In the aftermath of this revelation, the word “validation” really stuck with Valerie. So much in fact, that she took this experience and created “The Validation Project.”
Since she started the group with $25 of her babysitting money (which was used to purchase the domain name for the website), she has matched up about 6,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 25 from over 100 countries with companies like Google and Seventeen magazine, to give these teens mentorship experiences in their dream fields.
One of the truly wonderful things about The Validation Project is that after these young people benefit from their mentorship experience, they are required to do volunteer work and pass on the knowledge they learned during their time with The Validation Project.
Valerie works full-time (like,40 hours a week full-time), but she still has to wait until she turns 18 in February before she can officially register her organization as a nonprofit. In the meantime, she’s keeping busy. In addition to her full-time load with The Validation Project, Carly just won a National Jefferson Award For Peace and Justice, and after speaking about teen issues on Capitol Hill this year, became a White House teen advisor.
So what’s her advice for others who aspire to do what she does?
“Use your energy to fuel your passion,” Valerie told the Christian Science Monitor. “Make volunteering your “money” that you give back to the world. If you’re young, use that to your ability! It is NOT a disadvantage. Most importantly, step outside your comfort zone. Being outside the box is true freedom. BE an outsider.”
We’re so glad Valerie is using her experience with bullying as fuel to make the world a better place for young people and their communities.
(Image via Instagram)