Atlanta has a lot of reasons to feel proud in 2014 when it comes to motivation and valued Leadership in the youth community. Mary Pat Hector, a local sixteen-year-old youth leader, and advocate placed her anti-gun violence campaign “Think Twice” on 45 billboards throughout the Atlanta area. She met with President Barack Obama to discuss important issues affecting the youth all across the nation. This young activist was also honored with the receipt of the 2014 Global Youth Leadership Award for leadership, service, and will a committed New Look Ambassador.
These results were the culmination of efforts on behalf of Mary Pat to bring awareness to the common problems plaguing youth in her community, as well as in nearly every community across the nation. Her future in advocating for change came into focus in 2011 at her first New Look World Leadership Conference. She became steadfast and driven to pursue New Look’s mission of developing youth that were service-minded and active in a global arena.
Mary Pat has felt a desire to initiate positive change as a small child. At ten years old, she founded Youth in Action to motivate young people across the country to stand up to things like bullying, gun-violence, and drug use. She is currently the National Youth Director for the Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. It is an organization that centers on advocating civil rights. She travels all over the country to speak at high schools, colleges, women’s conferences, and civil rights gatherings.
Launching her anti-gun violence campaign “Think Twice” in 2013 is in direct response to the on-going problem of African American youth killing other African American youth. The statistics are alarming with violent youth crime. Urban areas show numbers as high as eighty-five percent of African American homicide victims being males between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. The majority of African American men in this age range grow up in impoverished areas where the alternatives to violent crime are few. “Think Twice” is directed to raise awareness that change needs to happen at the core level of society and on the streets where it begins.
Mary Pat was awarded a fifty thousand dollars grant to continue this effort by the Peace First organization that is also committed to teaching youth how to resolve issues peacefully. Her dedication to bringing all members and organizations within the community together to counter violence with the youth is raising the awareness needed to begin the change. She is a bright light within the youth leadership that will shine for many years to come!
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