Irie Page, 14, of Portland, Ore., an eighth-grader at Micha-el School, organized a free public educational event that presented information about safe dating to hundreds of young people and their parents. Irie was inspired to do something important for her 14th birthday after hearing a speech by Nobel Prize recipient Malala Yousafzai. “She said ‘everyone’s voice matters,’ and that really stayed with me,” said Irie. Having heard about a nationally recognized author and educator who speaks about sexual violence and the importance of consent, Irie decided to invite him to an event that she would host.
She raised money for the author’s speaking fee by setting up a GoFundMe account and soliciting sponsorships from local businesses. Then she persuaded Portland State University to let her use a recital hall; reached out for information from the police department, the district attorney’s office and sexual assault crisis centers; and publicized her event by giving interviews to local news media. Approximately 500 teens and adults attended Irie’s event in November. The author was so impressed with her efforts that he waived his fee, enabling Irie to donate the funds instead to local organizations working to prevent sexual violence. “I believe that to create change you have to start with education,” she said.