On the surface, Aaliyah is just your everyday, fifteen-year-old girl. “I grew up in Elko. I was born here, but I’d like to go to Austrailia; it looks like it would be fun. Next year, I’ll be a freshman next year; I like to play volleyball and sing. I also make and edit my own videos, and write horror stories, but they all come out so cringy (bad). I like to read a lot too, mostly the Maze Runner.”
See, just your average teen. However, to complete a school project, Aaliyah decided not to let her age act as an excuse as to why she couldn’t pull off something pretty important. “I worked on something called the 20Time Project. We were given the entire school year to pick a type of community we had some interest in and create something that would benefit that community. So, I chose to put on an anti-suicide benefit concert for Survivors of Suicide Loss of Northeastern Nevada. The Moonshine Outlaws, my friend Morgane Rexroad, and another local musician, Taylor Heintz, played at Great Basin College. We held a silent auction; The Home Depot donated a barbeque. We had a lot of other donations from other supporters, too. At the end of it, I raised fourteen hundred dollars for the cause.”
Three days after the benefit concert, one of Aaliyah’s friends actually attempted suicide. “She just got really depressed. I didn’t have any contact with her at the time. But I would tell someone who was battling with thoughts of suicide not to give up…take time to realize how much you mean to someone. I got you! It’s important, but sometimes it can be hard to talk about. Society may have certain rules they want everyone to fit into, and if you (her fellow teens) don’t fit into what it says you should be, then you may feel like an outcast. You may feel a lot of pressure, but everyone else is taken. Be you.”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of teens, and adults, whose story involves being affected by the thoughts and/or actions of suicide. As someone heavily focused on this topic for almost a year, what did Aaliyah learn that she would like to pass on to her peers? “I learned and would say to other teens that you don’t have to be “old enough” to do something to help a community. I’m only fifteen, and I raised fourteen hundred bucks. Anyone can make a difference!”
That’s right, Aaliyah! We hope you, and the rest of the youth in our town, remember that you’re never too young to make a difference in someone’s life.
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See you around, Elko teens!