She and her family were naturally, significantly impacted by her cousin’s death, as well as previous gun-related deaths in the family.
Abernathy, a junior at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs, said she felt inspired to do something to help prevent future gun violence.
“I wanted to do something for kids involved in violence and give them information about how to get out of the situations and help others get out of them,” the East Point resident said.
In November, Abernathy launched her organization, All Teens Against Violence, with a seminar at Woodland Middle School in East Point.
“I had the East Point Police Department come talk to a group of eighth-grade students, … telling them how violence can affect the community, and ways they can get out of violence,” she said.
Abernathy also had a guest speaker, Marlena Vasquez, a Coca-Cola employee who was raised in violent atmosphere, she said.
“She was inspiring them,” Abernathy said. “It doesn’t matter your background or where you come from. You can change the direction of where you’re going.”
She said she chooses to talk to middle school-age students because they can understand and it is a time when future violent actions can be prevented in adulthood.
Her organization was named the Girl Talk winner of the national Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy’s Choose to Matter contest in March.
Keith White, the Holy Innocents’ director of community outreach, said Abernathy shows strong leadership, dedication and aptitude necessary to motivate her peers “to strive to create for the greater good of our community.”
“All Teens Against Violence is an organization that empowers youth to say no to violence, to make healthy choices and to deal with conflict in an appropriate manner,” White said. “I feel that her organization has made a tremendous difference in the community.”
Abernathy said she hopes to soon start a website, make her organization a nonprofit and spread awareness throughout the state and nation.
“With all the recent things going on involving gun violence, I think it has been really important,” she said. “Everyone is valuable and has something to live for. When you have something to live for, you can inspire others to do the same. By doing that, you won’t want to destruct everyone else’s lives.”
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