Slocomb teenager advocated for children of trauma
Evie Smith wears her heart on her wrist — that’s where she dons the bracelets she makes and sells to benefit children who are survivors of trauma.
Smith, a 16-year-old majorette at Slocomb High School and Miss Baldwin County’s Miss Outstanding Teen, often sports her own designs as a way to start a dialogue about her passion — advocating for children of trauma, or ACT.
“The main purpose of my social impact initiative, ACT, is to tell people to stand up, step forward and speak out against childhood trauma,” Smith says. Smith doesn’t mind getting down and dirty and doing whatever is necessary to support the cause. She’s washed dishes and scrubbed toilets to help kids attend Camp Victory in Samson over the summer.
She also enjoys doing behind-the-scenes work to support The Exchange Center for Child Abuse Prevention in Dothan. In recent years, she’s helped the center with events like the annual Superhero 5K run and cleanup days.
At the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center in Dothan, Smith volunteers with its annual Tee Off for Kids golf tournament and helps stuff goody bags with T-shirts and other items participants take home from the event.
Although she can’t work directly with the children who use these organizations’ resources due to legal reasons, Smith knows assisting with fundraising and raising awareness will help get resources to the children and families who need them.
Last year, she felt like she could be doing more to spread the word and help worthy organizations in the Wiregrass community through her online Etsy store, ESassDesigns. She started a fundraising campaign making bracelets with the ACT acronym to encourage others to make a difference in a child’s life. She set a goal to raise $1,000 for the Exchange Center, but she didn’t expect the message to reach so many people.
“I put out some videos on social media and my friends and family shared it and it really took off,” Smith says. “So many orders poured in. I was making bracelets pretty much everywhere.
“I’d have movie nights and my friends would help me make them. It was a lot of work, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.”
All that hard work paid off and Smith was able to write a check to the Exchange Center for over $4,000. She takes pride in knowing people from all over the country were wearing the bracelets she made and spreading awareness about the prevalence of child trauma.
The mission to help support society’s youngest and most vulnerable population is special to Smith, who experienced abuse herself as a young girl.
“Thankfully, my family believed me and got me into counseling and got me the resources I needed to be able to heal from that trauma,” Smith says. “I had that support team. Now, I want to be that supporter for someone else. I want to be able to use my story to tell another child that your trauma doesn’t define you. I was traumatized and I came out on the other side of that, and I want to be able to give that support and that hope to other children.”
More than two-thirds of children report at least one traumatic event by age 16, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — but Smith believes awareness and prevention efforts can help reduce the number of incidents both inside and outside the home.
“In the pageant system I compete in, I get the opportunity to talk about it a lot when I get on-stage questions and when I discuss my community service,” Smith says. “I tell people what they can do to help because it’s a big community effort, and I get to do this all across the state.”
At a recent speaking event at the Under His Wings Girls Home in Baldwin County, Smith was able to talk about her own experiences with childhood trauma. She was thankful for the opportunity to connect with young girls in the audience.
Smith’s many advocacy efforts earned her the Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass award, a partnership between Wiregrass Electric Cooperative and WTVY. As part of the program that honors local unsung heroes and organizations, Smith was presented with a $1,000 check from WEC’s Operation Round Up Foundation to continue her mission.
“You’re never too young to start getting involved in your community and finding ways to lend a hand,” says Brad Kimbro, WEC’s chief operating officer. “Miss Evie is a model for the youth of the day and absolutely deserves the recognition. My hope is that other young people can look to Evie and her story and her spirit for inspiration and maybe they too will make meaningful positive changes in their communities. We wish her well in her mission.”
Smith was shocked to receive the recognition.
“I’m just so grateful for my community for supporting me with the bracelet sales and nominating me for this award,” Smith says. “It takes a whole community to end childhood trauma, and I’m thankful to have the platform to continue advocating for that with this recognition by Wiregrass Electric and WTVY.”
Smith donated the grant money to the Exchange Center to help young trauma victims in their healing process.
Though she’s not not currently actively campaigning, she is still selling her bracelets on her Etsy store ESassDesigns.
To learn more about The Exchange Center for Child Abuse Prevention, visit the Exchange Center for Child Abuse Prevention website. For more information about the Southeast Child Advocacy Center, visit the Southeast Child Advocacy Center website.