Valerie Weisler of New City recently received the NYC-based Diller Teen national award. She was honored for creating the Validation Project, a nonprofit organization that incorporates a “kindness curriculum” to combat bullying in schools across the world. The $36,000 award recognizes teens for their commitment to social good and volunteer service.
Valerie, 18, who graduated from Clarkstown South High School this spring, was a shy high school freshman and frequently bullied at school. She created the Validation Project after seeing the impact she had on another bullied student. When she told him “you matter,” he answered by telling her that her words “validated” him. That became the foundation for Valerie’s campaign, in which teens identify their skills and passion, partner with mentors in their field of interest, and then design campaigns to positively impact their community. By focusing their energy on constructive contributions, teens overcome the obstacles, such as bullying, that once had held them back.
Now in its tenth year, the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam awards have given more than $3 million dollars to 84 Jewish teens who are tackling global issues and creating lasting change through tikkun olam — the vision of Bay Area philanthropist Helen Diller, the force behind the Helen Diller Family Foundation.