Our Inspiration: Lili Rachel Smith
Laura Talmus and Ace Smith founded Beyond Differences to remember and honor their daughter, Lili (1994 - 2009).
Like many adolescents, Lili suffered from social isolation. She wasn’t bullied or teased, but she was often treated as if she were invisible.
We now know that social isolation is an experience felt by thousands and thousands of youth across America. And what we’ve learned from working directly with young people is that a great many are inherently kind and compassionate and want to do the right thing. After all, middle school can and should be a great experience.
In October 2009, Lili passed away unexpectedly in her sleep. The outpouring of grief was enormous. Lili's short and inspiring life, particularly her brave efforts to overcome social isolation, serves as a guiding light for other children, adolescents, and families. The film Lili's Story: Breaking Down the Walls of Social Isolation is still a middle school favorite.
Since Lili’s passing, we’ve been working to change the student culture in schools and online to make everyone feel included, no matter their differences. Our innovative programs have worked to end social isolation in middle schools and high schools across the country.