By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN
Follow on Twitter:@CNNEmma
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Kelsey Hirsch was 11 years old when her parents sat her down and told her about a scandal gripping their beloved alma mater. Charles Hirsch and his wife graduated from Penn State University and like many alumni, they felt a strong connection to the place. So when allegations surfaced that coach Jerry Sandusky abused boys in his care, the Hirsch's knew they'd need to explain the story to their children.
[1:25] "We made the decision as parents that it was important that our children knew first hand what was going on versus hearing it from their friends and kind of getting misinformation."
They explained what happened and how to spot red flags in her own community, they live just outside Atlanta. Kelsey listened, and couldn't imagine why someone would harm another person that way. She wanted to help.
[0:32] "I decided to do Bands for RAINN, " she says fiddling with one such blue and white band for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network on her own wrist.
Each band sells for $3. The proceeds help fund the RAINN online hotline, a resource for those impacted by sexual violence.
[0:50] "It helps them like feel like feel like survivors instead of victims," Kelsey says.
So far, the project has raised $18,000. That's enough to provide support to 1,800 survivors, Kathrine Hull a RAINN spokeswoman said. That's impressive for someone not yet in high school.
Hull also praises Kelsey's commitment to raise awareness. They call her frank pitch on the bracelets "a gamechanger." That's because sexual violence, though widespread, is still taboo. That's something the pint-sized activist has run into.
[3:29] "Some people are just really horrible about it," she says. Some of her classmates, they ask her to stop talking about sexual violence entirely. Why? "I just think that they feel uncomfortable about it. So like, they think it's gross."
But that's just the minority, she says, and she's not deterred. She's set a new goal of $100,000 which means a lot more talking. Her dad supports her the whole way.
[3:57] "I think Kelsey's right, the more you talk about it the better. It shouldn't be a taboo topic."
With each blue and white band and the sales pitch behind it they're chipping away at that taboo.
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