While organizing my home office recently, I found a paper tucked inside a notebook — a school project about myself from when I was eight titled “Guess Who?” One section reads, “I like me because…” and in big sloppy letters hidden under red crayon I had written, “I can always reach my goals.”

This discovery inspired me to start writing on a whiteboard calendar one reason why “I like me” each day. I’m practicing positive self-talk, and it has been helpful to take a moment daily to be kind to myself.

A few days ago, after returning home from a morning at the capitol during the general legislative session, I wrote: “I use my voice.”

I have been given many opportunities to use my voice over the years: from boards, committees, presentations, events, interviews, and even pieces of writing like this one. I recognize what a privilege and responsibility these opportunities are, and through them, I have learned that everyone has a voice and provides a unique perspective at the table.

At times when I sit in big rooms with lawyers, politicians, and people with over twenty years of experience, it can be intimidating to speak up — but being quiet can be a disservice to the communities I represent. I understand that many do not have a platform to have their voices heard, and so when it becomes difficult to unmute or walk up to the microphone, I think of them. I think of the road I’m paving so that many others can have their voices heard.

“When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak,” says one of my favorite quotes from Audre Lorde.

Sometimes, speaking up takes encouragement from a friend.

In my first year on a Legislative Affairs Committee, I wanted to comment, but didn’t quite have the courage to do so. I whispered my comment to a friend and fellow committee member sitting next to me, she responded, “Share it with the group, it’s important.”

In this scenario, I was using my voice to echo the words of those who aren’t at the table: the victims, the marginalized, the children. That’s when I feel bravest. I like myself because I am brave enough to use my voice. I might not always get it right, but I will always show up.

It might seem daunting, but the more you practice using your voice, the more comfortable it becomes. Whether you choose to speak out on social media, participate in a community awareness event, join a committee or board, or volunteer: We need you.

And you won’t be alone. I’ll be right alongside you, showing up and speaking out.

If you want to use your voice during April, Child Abuse Prevention Month, please join us. Contact makaila.kelso@familysupportcenter.org for more information.

About our Guest Writer

Since a young age, Makaila has been passionate about strengthening her community. As the Community Engagement Manager at the Family Support Center, Makaila uses her strong interpersonal skills and out-of-the-box ingenuity to develop strategic partnerships that create lasting change. Makaila’s strengths lie in bringing people and organizations together under the shared mission to protect children and prevent abuse.

Makaila has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Utah State University and over 7 years of nonprofit and community volunteer work. She has received the Applied Psychological Service Award, Bill E. Robins Award, and is recognized as a finalist for the 2022 Volunteer of the Year Award.

Makaila proudly serves on the Women’s Business Forum Steering Committee, Chamber West Legislative Affairs Committee, and other advisory boards and committees in the community. Outside of work you might find Makaila caring for her many house plants, hosting game nights, thrifting, or watching sports.