Area resident on speaking tour to help teenagers

Alexander Kovarovic, right, was interviewed in February by journalist Dometi Pongo for an online MTV News "Need to Know" segment, talking about his own experience battling an eating disorder and the available resources to get help. Kovarovic will set off on a 180 city speaking tour later this month, sharing his experience battling anxiety, depression and self-harm to aid teens currently facing the challenges he has overcome. (Photo submitted)

GLOVERSVILLE — A young man who has focused on helping struggling teens facing issues he has overcome, will extend his reach in the coming months as he embarks on a national speaking tour.

Alexander Kovarovic is known locally for his work providing support and resources to teenagers in crisis through community events and presentations with the non-profit organization he started in 2018, the National Youth Internet Safety and Cyberbullying Task Force.

The organization seeks to promote safe online practices for youths and families while providing resources aimed at preventing teen suicide, self-harm, abuse, human trafficking and bullying. The agency currently operates out of an office in the Amsterdam Riverfront Center.

Kovarovic also published a self-help book for teens this year titled “Change Your Life” with advice for youths and their families cultivated from the author’s own experiences struggling with anxiety, depression and self-harm.

To aid teens suffering with eating disorders, Kovarovic was interviewed in February by journalist Dometi Pongo for an online MTV News “Need to Know” segment, talking about his own experience battling an eating disorder and the available resources to get help.

“There aren’t a lot of guys my age that talk about it,” Kovarovic explained on Friday. “Teens like myself could watch the video and think, ‘gee, I need help’ and talk about it.”

The 2016 Gloversville High School graduate, Kovarovic, now 20 years old, has centered his early adult years on sharing information with teens that could have helped him when he was in their shoes.

“I didn’t have a lot of help or support when I was younger,” Kovarovic said. “I tried to kill myself, because I thought my life was over.”

Ultimately, Kovarovic received the support he needed to overcome the issues he grappled with from teachers and school counselors and, after seeing the potential to change his life that always existed within himself, he decided to share that knowledge with other troubled teenagers who may feel isolated.

“A lot of teens suffer silently,” Kovarovic said. “They don’t know how to talk to their parents, teachers or friends about their problems.”

“No matter what you go through you can always turn your life around and make a good future for yourself,” he added.

Kovarovic tries to lead by example, speaking publicly at local schools and events about how he overcame his personal struggles. He will spread his helping hands further this year as he embarks on a 180 city speaking tour primarily visiting high schools and colleges to share his story with students.

“I love being able to help people, but also being able to interact with them personally, I like being able to go to the school to see the kids while you’re impacting them,” Kovarovic said. “I want to impact more people across the country.”

While addressing teens, educators and families, Kovarovic pulls from his more than 200 hours of crisis training and suicide intervention specialist training to provide insight on how to approach someone facing everyday problems or in crisis. He notes that personal safety should always be the priority, saying if an individual is facing imminent danger, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline or 911.

Long-term, Kovarovic said he knows from experience that teens can overcome seemingly insurmountable problems.

“Just hang on a little longer. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, pain doesn’t last forever. I’ve been there, it does get better,” Kovarovic said. “I love speaking, because I’m the prime example of pain does end.”

While Kovarovic is looking forward to having a positive impact on the futures of teens across the country, he is also looking forward to the shape his own future is taking, currently studying domestic violence intervention at Southern New Hampshire University and planning to open additional offices of the National Youth Internet Safety and Cyberbullying Task Force, including a branch due to open in Miami later this year.

“I love my work,” Kovarovic said. “In the future I look to get my degree and keep doing what I’m doing and building what I’ve started.”

Overall, Kovarovic is excited about his tour that kicks off in Hershey, Pennsylvania on March 28, offering his gratitude to everyone in his home city who provided him guidance and support while bidding them a fond farewell.

“I feel great. I’m a little nervous, but also very excited….I love being able to help people,” Kovarovic said. “I also just want to thank everybody in Gloversville, the teachers and counselors who helped me change my life around.”

For more information about Kovarovic’s work and resources regarding a variety of youth issues, visit alexanderkovarovic.com/ or nationalyouthiscbtaskforce.org/.

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