South Walton 7th Grader Gives TEDx Talk on Child Advocacy - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

South Walton 7th Grader Gives TEDx Talk on Child Advocacy

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For most seventh graders, navigating the in's and outs of their early teenage years will take up most of their time; but one Walton County middle schooler is taking strides in changing the lives of children on a global scale, and, now, the world is listening.

"It's just been life-changing," said the humble Ally Woodard on Monday.

Sitting in the Emerald Coast Middle School Media Center, looking ever so "teen-age" in her "ECMS Dance Team" jersey, Ally recalled her trips around the world.

At 12 years old, she's logged more global miles than most do in a lifetime, as a Youth Ambassador for the "Art Miles" Mural Project.

"It's basically brings people through their differences through art," said Ally of the organization.

If she sounds impressive, it's because she is.

Using art as a platform for communication, Ally has traveled the world with her parents, bringing light (or perhaps, color) to the darkest of places; earthquake ravaged Haiti and even drug-fueled Mexico.

"I've seen her communicate with kids, they didn't speak the same language, who as soon as you gave them a blank piece of paper and paint, all the sudden there was no problem in communicating at all," said Ally's Mom, Diane.

For Diane and Alan Woodard, Ally is a challenge; a force for good in a world that needs it.

"I'm very proud of her, mainly for being so selfless. She's been an inspiration," said Ally's Dad, Alan.

Now, she has gone where no pre-teen has gone before; in December, giving a speech for the TEDx talks, part of the famed TED talks, or daily pod casts of "words worth spreading."

They have seen speakers like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and, now, Ally.

"All kids just really want the same things: a loving family, a safe home, education and to just have fun being a kid," Ally said in her speech. "I didn't talk about how we're different because people always ask me, "Ally, isn't it a lot different with those kids over yourself?" I just like to think about how we're all so similar and how we can all come together for the greater good."

If we truly are to come together, any good force needs a leader. It's a role Emerald Coast Middle School Principal, Charlie Marello, feels Ally could take on.

"I remember thinking what type of perspective and maturity that a 12 year old seventh grade girl. It's almost like a phenomenon. It doesn't happen," said Marello.

But, ask Ally and she'll tell you she's no different than the rest; just a girl with a dream of bringing happiness to every child.

"I know it's a really hard goal for all of us to get, but we just have to work together I think...and not think of ourselves first, but think of others," said Ally.

Those are words worth sharing.