Attic Intern Ayyden Edwards becomes DVLF's Youth HERO

5/1/2018 10:49am

The Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) hosted its 11th annual HEROES brunch and awards ceremony on Sunday, April 29th. Every year the organizations recognizes LGBTQ leaders in the Philadelphia community, and this year The Attic's very own, Ayyden Edwards was awarded the Youth HERO award. 

From Ayyden's nomination: 

"Ayyden Edwards is a 16-year-old junior at Bartram High School who has made a big impact on The Attic in a short amount of time. Ayyden is a member of the Justice League, an afterschool internship for youth to explore and address social justice issues impacting queer and trans youth. Ayyden is a passionate advocate for LGBTQ and disability rights. He recently participated in a panel through the Black Lives Matter Teachers Action Week, where he spoke on his experience as a black transgender person who battles transphobia both at home and at school.

In addition to the Justice League, Ayyden is an active member and leader in the Thrive Project, a program at The Attic Youth Center designed to empower queer youth of color and their peers to address their health and well-being. Through this program Ayyden has lead workshops at community events and
helped bring awareness to LGBTQ youth homelessness through co-developing a video to highlight the barriers that LGBTQ youth face in accessing and securing stable housing.

Coming out as trans has been an ongoing struggle for Ayyden, but he always seems to be able to find the positive in the strife he experiences at home and at school. Ayyden regularly experiences discrimination for his gender identity due to his parents’ traditional views, and by teachers who belittle Ayyden’s agency by treating his transition as a “phase”. He does not let these challenges overwhelm him. Despite these barriers, he is a straight A student, currently studying Latin and upper level Math courses. An artist himself, Ayyden, hopes to one day become an Art Therapist. To realize this goal, he has recently began taking art and sociology courses at the Community College of Philadelphia.

A natural community healer, Ayyden is the first one to be a caring and loyal support to others struggling at the Attic with discrimination in outside spaces. Ayyden continues to shine as a strong example of self-expression, and someone who is not intimidated by societies standards of “normalcy”. Ayyden is very open in talking about his participation in therapy services through The Attic Youth Center and often shares his experience with mental health with other to destigmatize mental illness and encouraging other to seek mental health supports. Through the Justice League, he’s currently working with his peers to create a zine to draw awareness to mental health issues impacting queer and trans youth of color.

Ayyden’s dedication to the LGBTQ community, his selflessness in using his personal story to help those around him, and his motivation and passion to make and see change happen at such a young age make this quiet leader a Hero." 

Congratulations to Ayyden and the other 2018 DVLF HEROES!