Tralayia Prince, lifelong resident of Statesboro, is “stepping into her purpose,” as the mentor she wishes she’d had before turning to a life of crime in her teens. Now, she dedicates her time as a community organizer and role model for vulnerable young people, especially in Statesboro’s Districts 1 and 2, where she grew up.
According to Prince, creating change for our community’s youth starts with encouraging reading and literacy skills, destigmatizing mental health services, and creating sports leagues that are more affordable or free.
Her goal: to create a safe space for the children and youth in our community. “I want to keep our young people from making the choices that I made; I want to keep them off of the streets and out of the system,” she said.
When Prince was 14, she lost her mother, and in the following years she made a series of decisions that resulted in her incarceration in 1993. Prince says that after her mother's death, she was afraid to accept the help that might have altered her life choices during such a painful time. She didn't want to be labeled "different" by her peers, and she felt embarrassed to seek mental health support. Now, it’s her mission to prevent other young people from facing the same struggle.
A message to young people: "It's ok to be different, it's ok to ask for help"
“I turned to a life of crime instead of accepting the mental health counseling services and help that were offered to me, and that I really needed,” Prince explained. “I had opportunities to accept help, but I turned them down because I didn’t want to be seen as different.”
“I want kids today to know that it’s ok to be different and it’s ok to get help, especially with your mental health,” she added.
Growing up in and around the Morris Heights community, Prince has firsthand experience with the needs and challenges the children and youth there are facing. As a child, she dreamed about being a P.E. teacher or coach. “I always loved helping kids,” she explained. But it was the birth of her godson in 2020 that inspired her to get to work.
“I want the community to be a better place for him and all of Statesboro’s youth."
Making an impact and picking up steam
Now, Prince feels like she has finally stepped into her purpose. She is determined to make a difference for the next generation of young people in the community, and she’s on a roll:
In October, she co-organized the Unity in the Community - March to End Gun Violence, where local citizens raised awareness of gun violence in Statesboro after tragedy struck the area in a near-fatal shooting.
In November, the Bulloch County chapter of the NAACP recognized Prince with the President’s Award, their highest annual honor, to celebrate her incredible contributions to the community. She also organized a winter coat drive that brought in nearly 70 coats and jackets to help the community’s kids stay warm this winter season.
And this December, she is hosting a Community Impact Day on December 9th from 10am to 3pm.
“We are planning to share resources, serve a meal, promote mental health awareness, and we’ll even have a DJ,” Prince shared. They will also be distributing the coats from November's coat drive. Her goal is simple: to connect people with the resources they need.
Prince plans to continue her trend of organizing a monthly program that helps Statesboro’s youth, and she is in the process of starting a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the “Save Our Youth Movement.” She says the organization will focus on efforts to save Statesboro’s youth from making decisions that lead them toward criminal activities, and to provide young people with resources and role models.
Our youth are our future
When asked what the Statesboro community could do to support her efforts, Prince called for Statesboro citizens to remember, “Our youth are our future. Love them, guide and coach them, give them compassion and respect.”
Prince welcomes the public to attend the Community Impact Day on Saturday, December 9th, from 10am to 3pm, to show support for Statesboro’s youth. The event will take place at the intersection of Morris Street and Len Tenner Court in Statesboro.