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‘This is my purpose': 12-year-old from Chesterfield named as finalist for ‘Kid of the Year’ award

Updated: Nov. 17, 2020 at 6:39 PM EST
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CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - A Chesterfield 7th grader is getting national attention for standing up for other children. Elijah Lee has been named a finalist for Nickelodeon and Time Magazine’s “Kid of the Year” award.

“We cannot give up on our survivors, we can’t give up on these people who went through these things,” said Lee. "There was still work to be done, and I had to do it, so I did.”

For several years, the Roanoke Rapids native has been on a crusade to end child abuse after a friend in first grade revealed they were being abused at home.

“We got that person help, and I came home and I talked to my mom about what child abuse was,” he said.

Elijah has continued to be an advocate for other children, and at 10 years old he held his first march to end child abuse in his hometown

“There were over 200 people in attendance, that was monumental to me, that meant something to me,” he said. “I also knew from there, this is my purpose. If I could get them to listen, even if it was for an hour, to hear our young people’s voices, I was making a difference.”

Elijah has since planned more marches, his fourth march will take place virtually on March 6, 2021.

Elijah Lee's 4th Annual Child Abuse Awareness March will take place virtually in 2021
Elijah Lee's 4th Annual Child Abuse Awareness March will take place virtually in 2021(Elijah Lee)

“To any person that is a survivor of abuse or going to abuse right now, know this is not your fault. You are beautiful, you are strong and you are wonderfully made, no matter what anyone does to you or says to you - you are powerful, you are strong and you will overcome this,” said Elijah.

Elijah and his family recently moved to Chesterfield in July 2020, this is his first year at Swift Creek Middle, but over the last two years, his efforts have gained him national attention. He was recognized as part of the Marvel Hero Project, and his inspiration, the late civil rights icon John Lewis wrote Elijah a letter.

“John Lewis was 23 when he gave his speech on the March on Washington, and it made me realize our young people are not just these subtle people in history, our young people have made some amazing moves to make change," he explained.

Elijah plans to continue to use his voice to make a change while helping other young people harness the power of their voices as well.

For the holidays this year, Elijah is teaming up with SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) to provide families with Christmas.

“I have a saying ‘when one rises, we all rise; but when one falls, we all fall,’" said Elijah.

On Dec. 5, Elijah’s 13th birthday, he will learn if he won “Kid of the Year.”

“I hope it serves as a reminder to so many kids back home and so many kids around America - no matter where you come from, what your life looks like, what limitations have been put on you, you are capable of achieving your dreams, no matter what happens," he said.

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