black and white photo of a young woman smiling with the caption "strong"

April 28, 2016

“Respecting others starts with respecting yourself.” – SYLC member

Last November, the Sitka Youth Leadership Committee (SYLC) launched its “I AM” CAMPAIGN, which aims to celebrate diversity and connect youth across Alaska.  It encourages youth to be proud of their unique qualities and challenge stereotypes, and to take the #respectchallenge by posting a selfie and a positive adjective describing themselves to social media.  We believe that recognizing and celebrating our differences strengthens community and helps build self-esteem and respect for others.

SYLC launched this campaign because we wanted more people to feel better about themselves, be proud of who they are and where they come from. After brainstorming campaign ideas, SYLC members were inspired when they were tagged by a post that said, “I nominate you to upload ten photos that make you feel beautiful” and wanted to create a similar campaign focused on individual traits.

"I AM" campaign poster with portraits of youth
“I AM” Campaign poster

Working with a graphic designer and a filmmaker, SYLC created posters featuring SYLC members, their positive adjectives, and their selfies. The campaign launched in November with an animated movie theater ad that played in theaters in Sitka, Ketchikan, and Juneau to introduce it to youth and encourage them to join.  It directed them on how to take the #respectchallenge.

Since launching the campaign, SYLC members have done radio interviews & PSA’s, distributed posters, attended school/council/school board assemblies and meetings to encourage youth in the schools to join, and also asked school board members to spread the word.  I’m the media intern for SLYC, and I kept our facebook, website, instagram, and twitter updated with the things we have been doing with the campaign.

To take the respect challenge, participants can upload a photo with a positive adjective describing themselves using the hashtag #respectchallenge.

So far, we have had a lot of participation, and hundreds of students have been featured in photos taken for the #respectchallenge.  The campaign evolved into SYLC’s #justsayhi campaign, which challenges students to take the #respectchallenge with a student from another school, and to post a positive adjective describing them both. We are now working to expand our campaign throughout the state!
By: Brittany Henry, SYLC member and media intern