Milwaukie resident Shayla Montgomery honored at nation's capital
Milwaukie resident Shayla Montgomery, 17, was honored in the nation's capital this month for outstanding volunteer service during the 24th annual presentation of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
A junior at Clackamas Middle College, Mongomery uses social media and speaking engagements to spread awareness of bullying, imploring both teens and adults to come together to find ways to stop this all-too-common destructive behavior.
Montgomery — along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country — received a $1,000 award on May 5 and personal congratulations from award-winning actress Viola Davis at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. The awards are sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals
Mongomery was named Oregon's top high school volunteer in February. She received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
As previously reported in this newspaper, Mongomery decided to launch her own anti-bullying initiative two years ago, calling it "#Standup," after she couldn't find an organization that was speaking to boys and girls directly.
"I was severely bullied and as a result struggled with self-acceptance and depression," she said.
Luckily, a family member finally noticed something was wrong and confronted her. As she began to feel better about herself, Mongomery wanted to help others who were going through the same torment. Recognizing the power of social media, she began inviting people affected by bullying to post photos of themselves online holding a #Standup sign, and to describe how they had experienced bullying, how they had stopped it or had stood up to a bully, and how they think it could be prevented in the future. Then she started going to school and community groups to speak to children and adults about bullying and the lifelong effects it can have, and to brainstorm ways communities can come together to solve the problem.
"Too many people are committing suicide as a result of bullying," Mongomery said. "Together we can make a difference and end bullying!"