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Chelsea Clinton wows PDX kids with inspiring stories

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Author, new mother and former First Child Chelsea Clinton told students at Mt. Tabor Middle School about her struggles in middle school and how things work out in life during a book tour stop Thursday, Nov. 5.Hundreds of children lined the wood-paneled floor of the Mt. Tabor Middle School gym in Southeast Portland on Thursday to hear Chelsea Clinton speak about making change as a young person.

“You work to create opportunities, whether through soup kitchens, or recycling programs," said Clinton, 35, the former First Daughter, in Portland from New York for one day. "I understood pretty early on that there were so many different ways to serve, and that they were all equally valid and important."

She added: "That was the big lesson I learned in middle school. Of course I also remember the awkwardness that I think was inevitable for so many people.”

Clinton was in Portland as part of the promotional tour for her new book, "It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!"

The book, aimed at middle readers, was written to motivate kids to make positive change in their communities, through means big and small.

At Mt. Tabor, Clinton shared what pushed her toward activism from a young age.

“I revered 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth” Clinton said.

“One of the things that meant so much to me, was that it treated me seriously. It had such a big impact on me, and that’s really one of the reasons that I wrote 'It’s Your World.' I hope that it has the same impact on even one kid that it had on me."

Mt. Tabor’s students, excited to have a temporary reprieve from class, were one collective hum of high-pitched voices before Clinton began speaking.

Eight of them lined up to ask Clinton questions about the book, which tackles a wide range of difficult subjects.

“I’m deeply concerned about the persistent inequity in rights and opportunities for girls and women, not only in this country but around the world,” said Clinton, who also spoke about her 13-month-old-daughter.

“I’m deeply concerned about climate change, and how that will impact her and the world that she’ll grow up in and inherent. So admittedly I have lots of concerns that I had before I became a mom, but now just have sharper edges.”

One consistent theme, however, was the need for positivity.

“I think that cynicism is the place where people go if they want to protect the status quo. I have no interest in protecting the status quo. I think we all, hopefully, have a positive interest in making our world healthier, safer, more equitable, and more free,” said Clinton, the only daughter of President Bill Clinton and Democratic presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton.

When asked if she had plans to follow in her parents’ shoes, Clinton said she felt she could pursue the differences that she wants to make through her work at the Clinton Foundation and her writing.

As far as the presidential election, Clinton was unsurprisingly and unapologetically supportive of her mother.

“I think my mother is doing a great job talking about issues that really matter to mothers like me, and to families across our country," she said. "I think the more that people can see her, in person but also in debates and elsewhere, the more it will be understood and felt why I so passionately support her."