Creator of the essay “The Many Who Don’t Fit In”
Jenell Theobald is an incoming sophomore at the International School of Beaverton. Like many Americans, she inherited many different cultural backgrounds. She was also born with developmental and physical disabilities, including high-functioning autism. This led to her being bullied a lot when she was young, and by 5th grade, she had attended 7 different schools. She went to many therapy sessions per week when she was younger. Like many autistic teens, she experienced depression.
With help from others, Jenell is getting better at socialization. Her experiences have given her the resolve to help others like her. Jenell began with volunteer work for Camp Meadowood Springs, a social and communication camp that she had attended when she was younger. She created a Wikipedia page for them and helped promote the camp in many school districts and at other events. She also organized 35 volunteers to join the Oregon Elks over Memorial Day Weekend to do repairs and prepare the camp for summer.
Eventually, this led to forming Let’s Peer Up, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting people with disabilities. Let’s Peer Up has worked with the City of Beaverton to create the ADA Technical Advisory Committee, which represents the interests of 20,000 people in the Beaverton area. Now Jenell serves on the committee, and continues to fight for equity. She has recently spoken with Senator Ron Wyden about mental health issues.
Each year, Jenell spends hundreds of hours in volunteer and advocacy work and earns the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. In 2020 she was a Pamplin Media Amazing Kid and was a Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Oregon Honoree in 2021. She was featured on the front cover of Spectrum Life magazine’s 2021 winter issue, and was a finalist for Time Kid of the Year 2022.