It starts with one, but continues to grow.

I was born and raised in Michigan’s Detroit-Metro area for about 13 years of my life. In sixth grade, I moved from the big city of Utica, to the tiny village of Farwell in Central Michigan. This was one of the biggest, but most crucial changes in my life. Farwell was a very small, everybody knows everybody town and it was almost impossible to get out of the house without seeing somebody that you knew. For me, the small town made a huge positive impact on the school system and the sense of community that you felt walking around town. Unfortunately, I did have to play the role of the “new kid” and that was something that was very foreign to me. Being a new student, I instantly gravitated towards the first clique to accept me, just so I wouldn’t feel left out. Around the age of 13-14, I weighed a lot more than the average teenager, and that new group of friends reminded me on almost a daily basis. Everyday I would hear jokes cracked about my weight. Since I didn’t want to be exiled from the group, I began joking around with them, making fun of myself. “If you can’t beat them, join them” I told myself. Until one day, I realized that maybe if my own friends didn’t like my body, then I shouldn’t either. This led me to lose weight in the worst way possible, I just stopped eating. Every day I would get by, barely eating anything. Eventually, as this process went on, I lost about 20 pounds. Being okay with the weight that I was at, I began eating again, becoming stable with my eating habits. From time to time, I get asked the question, “If you could go back, would you do it all over?” The simple answer is, no. What has happened to me in my past defines who I will become in the future. Taking my experiences and roadblocks that I had to overcome in Middle School, I realized that there were kids all over that deal with issues like mine on a daily basis, and I wanted to put an end to it.

My senior year, I decided that our High School needed change and I wanted to be the voice for our student body. All in the same year, I ran for president of Student Council, Class Council, Band Council and Vice President of National Honor Society. I ended up winning all of my elections. Later down the line, the National Honor Society President resigned and I took over. I was one of the only students to ever have that many presidential titles in one time while going to Farwell. In the meantime, I still saw bullying happening everyday in the hallways, I watched people walk by, letting it happen, almost as if they didn’t care. Seeing this, I teamed up with our school’s Liaison officer and put together a presentation on Bullying and Suicide Awareness, we decided to present it in front of the 500 students of the Middle School, and the 500 students of the High School. After getting such a positive response from this, a couple different school districts caught wind of this and asked us to present in front of their student bodies as well. We realized that our message was only lasting for about a week after we gave our initial presentation, and it began fading in the minds of the students. We wanted something that lasted, that kids could get involved in, so we adopted an anti-bullying group named, the Power of 100. The concept was aimed at the fact that if one person can stand up to bullying, why can’t 100? Our motto was, “It starts with one, but continues to grow.” We began rallying students, making posters and brainstorming ideas of what we wanted to do with our group. We were contacted with an idea of an anti-bullying video that we could produce for our students. We received a very positive response from this, we were contacted by a couple newspapers who did front page articles on us, our presentation and our video. We were also contacted by numerous teachers and students all over the United States who saw the video in their own classrooms. We took this positivity and produced another video on Elementary School bullying and have received about 25,343 views so far. It gave hope that there are people out there that are willing to help, you just needed to find them. Don't be afraid to tell your story and get others to back up your mission on making this world a better place.

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