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Federal Way teen’s local anti-bullying efforts gain wider recognition
Kajmere Houchins, an 8th grade student at Illahee Middle School, was recognized by the Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) board of directors on Tuesday for her work dealing with bullying issues in schools.
“Tonight it’s my pleasure to introduce to you one of our finest and most promising young people, in not only our Federal Way school district, but also in our state,” said Illahee principal Jerry Warren. “She has been the face of anti-bullying at our school, and also the voice of social justice.”
Warren related how Houchins was able to get the Washington State Board of Education to unanimously adopt an anti-bullying resolution last November. The unique part of Houchins’s resolution is that it brought students into the fold in the policymaking process when it comes to anti-bullying issues within school districts and schools.
“Kajmere has been the featured speaker in two anti-bullying assemblies,” Warren continued. “The first was at Illahee, and as a result of that, we started an anti-bullying club.”
Warren also highlighted Houchins’s website, www.thepowercave.com, which he described as “a social justice website that students can go on to … find their voice about social justice.” Warren also touched on Houchins’s involvement with the Seattle Young People’s Project, a youth-led social justice organization that “empowers youth to express themselves and to take action on the issues that affect their lives.”
Houchins also found herself involved in the Legislative Youth Action Day last month in Olympia, an opportunity that allowed her to host a workshop on violence and bullying in schools, and the opportunity to speak to state lawmakers about those issues.
Warren noted Houchins has also been invited to speak at a TED Talk Teens event on March 1 in New York City.
“And so one more time, she’s going to be representing Federal Way in a most amazing way,” Warren said.
Houchins shared her thoughts on the roller coaster ride her life has been for the last several months.
“Last summer, my mom told me this was going to be my year,” she said. “And since I’ve started on this amazing journey, it has been crazy, exciting and it has given me something new to look forward to every single day.”
The 14-year-old with the heart of a prize fighting champion said her anti-bullying resolution was a “stab in the dark” and that she didn’t know if anyone “would read it or take me seriously.”
“The response from the Illahee administration, and from my peers, was a million times more than I expected,” she said with a smile.
A cancer survivor, Houchins has been a target of bullying herself, due to her fight with cancer and other life circumstances.
Houchins said she plans to continue to work on the issues that matter most to her, and helping her fellow students “feel empowered and safer.”
Fearless as always, Houchins issued a challenge to the district to keep the momentum going and to continue to bring the city’s youth into the conversation.
“I also challenge each of you, as district representatives, teachers, educators, volunteers and parents, to do your part and find outlets for youth’s voice in our community,” she said. “Allowing schools to truly become student-centered will help … students grow academically and become emotionally well-rounded adults.”
“This is how we change the world,” she added.