Original story published on WSTP-TV
LAKELAND, Fla. — A teenager from Lakeland just got an award fit for royalty. He went to London and got to meet Princes William and Harry when he received the Princess Diana Legacy Award.
Jaylen Arnold, 16, was one of only 20 young people in the world to be honored.
“It was so unbelievably cool,” he said. “Civilians that live in England haven’t even been able to do that, so then there’s Lakeland, Florida, American me sitting in school and studying the royal family. Next thing you know, I get to meet two of the members.”
On one side of the award is a silhouette of the princess. From another, you see that spells out, “Young people have the power to change the world.”
That’s what Arnold’s been doing since he was 8 years old. He started an anti-bullying foundation eight years ago called Jaylens Challenge Foundation. Since then,he’s spoken to more than 200,000 students in schools across the country.
“This world, especially nowadays, is so full of hate,” he explained. “I think there’s enough of that. People need to love each other despite our differences.”
Jaylen knows what it’s like to be bullied. He has Tourette’s Syndrome.
“They really would just say things like I was possessed by demons all the time, or that I look like a clown, and that I was retarded,” he said.
His family has supported him since he started his foundation.
“I get to see him just make amazing changes in lives,” said his mom, Robin Eckelberger. “I’m so happy that I get to be his mom.”
Now, he has the support of the royal family, and a legacy to carry on.
“It’s quite the reputation to live up to,” Arnold said.