When junior Paola Fantauzzi was little she was bullied because of the way that she looked and, she would come home crying for hours. Fantauzzi coped by talking to her mom and making new friends; eventually she learned not to care what people thought of her, and when she got to high school she didn’t want anyone to encounter what she did so she joined the Uplift Club.
The Uplift Club organized a week to spread bullying awareness and support one another. With dress-up days like: Pajama Day, Twin Day, Decades Day, Superhero Day and Spirit Day, all relating to anti-bullying, the slogans range from ‘putting bullying to rest,’ ‘find a friend,’ ‘spread the peace,’ and ‘fly away from bullying.’
A new component of anti-bullying week started this year: the Compliment Wall. The anonymous compliments were written on handprint cut-outs to represent the club’s symbol, so that anyone who walks past the wall will feel uplifted and empowered. Compliments like: “things will get better” and “don’t stop believing” were written. It was located on the glass wall in the middle of the cafeteria.
On Thursday, an assembly was held and the anti-bullying speaker, April Williams, about her brother Andrew’s personal experience with bullying. Andrew always felt alone and he thought the only way to be a part of something was to not be himself. This got so out of control that he became depressed and he committed suicide at the age of 17.
“I think by making it personal, it brings it home for the students by showing them that there are real people out there being bullied,” Williams said. “Speaking about my brother’s death gives something for his memory.”
Statistics have shown that over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying every year and that over 160,000 students drop out of school every year because of bullying.
“Bullying affected me by not feeling smart enough, that I will never reach my goals, and I came home crying almost every day. I coped by spending time with family and they helped me through it all and little by little,” vice president Briana Larenas said. “I feel sorry for the person [who bullied me]because they must have something going on if they felt the need to pick on me.”
Students can’t escape bullying by simply walking out of the school doors. One of the most common is cyber-bullying with 43 percemt of all victims being teens.
Due to bullying education and awareness, there has been more kindness and acceptance not only in schools, but everywhere with more clubs and programs to give those who struggle with bullying a safe place.
“I think we still have a long way to go, but we have come very far and as long as people continue to show empathy, things will change,” Williams said.
Many teachers, counselors, and people in administration would be happy to talk any student through any scenario that they are facing.
However, the class participation during these days was lower than the club had expected, but they still hold optimism for the future.
“There was moderate involvement,” club president Amaris Turner said. “Going forward, I’d like to promote dress up days better so that everyone participates and maybe even add incentives to excite people.”
The club still managed to send a message to students with the assembly and the compliment wall.
“Anti-Bullying Week showed me to keep doing what you love because you enjoy it,” junior Courtney Ring said.