Holy Innocents Episcopal School junior Amber Abernathy has been named the Girl Talk winner of the national Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy’s “Choose to Matter” contest.

Amber’s project—”All Teens Against Violence”—was focused on educating teens about gun violence. After losing one of her own family members to gun violence, Amber felt compelled to speak out to middle school students about violence and to help inspire teens to rise above the problem.

“I feel like it’s time to take a stand and be the person I’m called to be,” she explained. “Not just for me but to help other people.”

The 17-year-old held a non-violence seminar for some 60 middle school students—most of whom were surrounded by gang activity or had been exposed to violent situations at home. She organized speakers to provide students with important information on how to live healthy lives away from violence, and she made “All Teens Against Violence” wristbands and goodie bags, so that her participants would have a constant reminder to say no to violence.

“I also told them that your past doesn’t define who you are, or who you can be,” Amber added. Amber is the granddaughter of former Georgia State Rep. Joe Heckstall (D-East Point). In September of 2012, Quinn Keevon Heckstall, the legislator’s 20-year-old nephew, was shot and killed while visiting his girlfriend at an apartment complex off Mount Zion Parkway in Jonesboro. No motive was uncovered for the shooting.

For more information on Amber’s project and the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy’s “Choose to Matter” contest, go to the following website:

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