He was a sexually abused kid, and he's bringing his story to light for a good reason.

Once in a while, you meet a human being who just kinda exudes magic. Sasha is one of those people.

I don't know that I would have survived what he did — that is, sexual abuse by relatives over several years, beginning at age 4.

This is Sasha now, and at age 4.



Image by Sasha Joseph Neulinger/TEDx.

After throwing himself from his mother's car at age 8, he got some help to begin processing what had happened to him.

Sasha bravely made his sexual abuse history public.

Over a decade later, after the trials were over and he finished film school, he began a Kickstarter to fund the making of a movie about his life, " Rewind to Fast-Forward." You see, his father, a filmmaker himself, captured a lot of their family life on film, so Sasha got to watch himself as a wee child, then at ages 4, 5, 6, and even into his teens when he had to testify against the uncles and cousin who abused him.

Sasha's family videos show times when abusive family members were with him. Image by "Rewind to Fast-Forward."

This film is his chance to tell his story, connect with other survivors, and open a dialogue with the world about child sexual abuse.

Sasha's film shows his struggle with a difficult past. Image by "Rewind to Fast-Forward."

His Kickstarter raised nearly $200,000 in just a few weeks, received millions of views, and reached thousands of people who'd had similar experiences. Many of them sent him personal messages with their own stories of survival, some telling that story for the first time in their lives. There is great power in the ability to start conversations about a subject that most people would rather hide under a rug, and those conversations can turn into healing, justice, and positive change in the world. The film is in post-production. See the attributions below to find out more.

The real numbers behind sexual abuse? More than you think.

Think of 500 people in a room you've been in recently. A conference, a concert, a church.

Statistically, Sasha points out, 1 out of every 3 girls and 1 out of every 5 boys have been sexually abused before they reach the age of 18. (Note from our fact checkers: Some organizations like the U.S. Dept. of Justice put this at 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys, but either way — it's totally unacceptable).

I've been aware of that for several years now, though the reality of it is so much more than a statistic. It still shocks me.


Sasha's film shows how he coped with this trauma when he was a child. Image by "Rewind to Fast-Forward."

It's one of the biggest sources of trauma for children, and it happens far too frequently in the world.

Watch Sasha talk about his journey and about finding that 4-year-old child inside himself, holding his hand through the darkness, reminding him that he is deeply loved.

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She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

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Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

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In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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