Transcript of 2020 Awardee Peyton Barsel Video

2020 Awardee Peyton Barsel Video


When I was nine years old, I lost my father to a heart attack. My entire world changed that day. I felt such a numbness towards the world. I was like a shell of who I had once been. And when you are that small, that’s a really hard thing to grapple with.

I absolutely blamed myself for what was going on around me in my classrooms. I felt very isolated, and teachers and students alike ignored me.

My teachers must have seen what was going on, yet they did nothing to step in to help me or my brother. I know now that it wasn’t because they didn’t care, but it was because they didn’t know what to say or how to help either of us.

When I was 13, I had no idea I would ever get into the politics side of anything, but I realized that this was a systemic issue and that isn’t something that I was willing to wait on. I worked on a bill to create teacher trainings as to how they could support children in their classroom who have gone through some sort of traumatic event.

Pretty much every adult along the way was like, there’s, there’s no way you can do this. Adults can’t pass bills into legislation. Why do you think that you can? And it took four years calling the Department of Education and saying, I’m gonna make this work.

On the day I found out Senate Bill 80 passed, it’s a feeling that I can’t describe because I’ve never put that much of myself into anything else.

I was not going to allow other students to have to experience something like this. And so the idea that the work that I’ve done could help maybe a little girl who’s just lost a parent, that’s the greatest feeling ever.