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Trevor Celebrates the Life-Affirming Work of Graduating YAC Members

Dozens of inspiring and heroic young people have served on the Trevor Youth Advisory Council (YAC), helping to increase Trevor visibility, advocate for pressing issues facing LGBTQ youth, and show young people with diverse identities that they’re not alone.

As we welcome a group of new YAC members this season, we also say “thank you” to seven graduating members who have spent the last two years making a difference. “The YAC’s graduating members have inspired me because they represent my hopes and dreams for all LGBTQ youth,” said The Trevor Project’s Outreach Coordinator, Mike Jorgensen, who organizes the group. “I look forward to the day when all young people will be able to thrive and achieve great things while celebrating their diverse identities and backgrounds.”

Here are a few of their most notable accomplishments, and reflections:

Travis Amiel (Westchester, NY) was inspired by our founding film, TREVOR, and produced a play about a contemporary gay teen. Travis’ story took place in a world where The Trevor Project exists – and because of that, the teen was able to receive necessary life-saving resources. He reflected, saying, “The YAC has introduced me to people that are devoted to Trevor’s cause in the most inspiring ways. It’s been humbling and exciting to be part of a team filled with such passion, excitement, and genius.”

Madelyn Gelpi (Slidell, LA), a 2014 YAC Co-Chair, helped foster safer and more loving places for LGBTQ youth in Louisiana. Madelyn gained support and advocacy from community leaders and political representatives by creating an inspiring coming out video. Madelyn said, “My future goals in life have everything to do with Trevor’s mission. Everything I’ve done in the YAC has better prepared me for this goal and has also solidified that this is the kind of work I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Luke Knudsen (Dallas, TX) was one of the 2014 YAC Co-Chairs, and promoted advocacy and resources for LGBTQ youth in often-overlooked rural areas. As a leader in the transgender community, Luke strives to create a world in which all gender identities are validated and celebrated. He said, “The YAC provides an unmatched ability to amplify Trevor’s reach and ability to be effective in its services for youth. We are, in essence, the youth Trevor serves, so the YAC is able to help ensure Trevor is effectively achieving its mission.”

Hannah Kopach (Elmhurst, IL) paired with local artist Steve Musgrave in her two-night “Art with Trevor” event to show LGBTQ youth the importance of self-care and creative expressions. For attendees, it was an empowering and healing experience. She said, “It has been a life-changing experience to see how important Trevor’s work is. Even as an ally, I still have the power to help save LGBTQ lives.”

MaKayla Reed (Belfast, ME) was the keynote speaker at Pride Youth Gathering in Maine, where they educated the local community about Trevor’s life-saving resources. MaKayla has the following message to struggling LGBTQ youth: “While things don’t always get better overnight, there will always be someone to talk to in order to get you through. The Trevor Project is here. You are loved, valued, and appreciated.”

Adam White (Ashburn, VA) spread awareness of the importance of faith-inclusivity and family support for LGBTQ youth within the Latter-day Saint community. In 2013, Adam was also presented with the Trevor Youth Innovator Award for his life-affirming work. As a future elementary school teacher, Adam hopes to further his LGBTQ activism within educational systems to provide safe and supportive environments for students of all identities. Check out Adam’s inspiring words to LGBTQ youth in his “It Gets Better at Brigham Young University” and “Just be There” videos.

Emma Zyriek (Bel Air, MD) helped foster a safe and supportive campus environment at Greenville, South Carolina’s Furman University by highlighting RuPaul Drag Race: Season One winner Bebe Zahara’s story of self-exploration and love. Emma hopes to continue her passion with LGBTQ populations, while spreading a beautiful message of positivity and hope.

The Trevor Project celebrates the accomplishments of these seven graduating members and wishes them all the best in their future endeavors. We know that our YAC graduates will go on to do incredible things and continue to advocate for the well-being of LGBTQ youth nationwide!

For more information and important updates (such as the approaching announcement of our newest selected YAC members!), visit our YAC page here.