Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Jeremiah's Hope For Kindness Day: A Pledge To Be Kind and Wear Yellow

Yesterday afternoon, as the kids and I drove into town for pizza before the presidential debate, Brooklynn started telling me about a boy on her school bus.

"When he got off the bus," she said, "he yelled, I just can't take it!"

Of course, I needed to know more, so I started to ask questions.  What couldn't this boy "take" anymore?

"Were kids being mean to him?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said.  "Maybe."

I told her that I hoped not, and that if kids were being mean to this boy, it was wrong. 

"What if kids were being mean to your friend, Summer on the playground?"  I asked.

"I'd take her away, and tell her come play with me if they are going to be mean."

"Wouldn't you say something to them?"  I asked.

"No.  Because then they might be mean to me."

And so the cycle goes--the human instinct to avoid confrontation--even when it is necessary.

"You have to say something," I say.  "You have to tell them it's wrong to treat people that way."


Sixteen years ago, at age fourteen, I went through a lengthy period of regular and traumatizing peer abuse.  I wrote about it here and in a handful of other places, while I also talk about the self-worth issues and depression that have trailed me over the years.  What has come from my experience is my heart for struggling teens; teens who deal with bullies, teens who bully and those who are affected as they watch abuse happening around them.  The reality that his happening to some extent in each school is vicious and real.  Human nature i s flawed, and as much as people want to look the other way and pretend it doesn't exist, it will continue to run rampant hurting hearts and hurting lives.

Two years ago, I became a certified Olweus Bully Prevention Program trainer.  While I was in Seattle, I met Ann.  I wrote about her and her story when I returned, and it was these things that solidified my purpose and my heart for bully prevention efforts.  I knew my experience, how it changed me, rocked me and left me yearning for something greater, but I'd been having a hard time seeing the bigger picture.  Until Ann and Jeremiah.

You see, Monday marks the six year anniversary of when Ann's son, Jeremiah, completed suicide.  I still recall Ann's soft words as she shared the heaviest of burdens a mother could ever carry.

Over the last two years, I've watched Ann forge a fierce fight for bully prevention efforts in her hometown in Minnesota, even in a school Jeremiah attended, through her non-profit organization and large Facebook page following, Jeremiah's Hope For Kindness.  She is tender, bold, achingly passionate, carries a strength unmeasurable and a longing heart for the boy that she lost and for the others who are battling a similar fight.  She truly is a mentor to me and I'm so happy to be able to work with her on the board of JHFK.

In honor of Jeremiah, Ann and her family and the many other lives that are affected by bullying, I invite you to take part in Jeremiah's Hope For Kindness Day, October 22nd.

From Ann:

Jeremiah's Hope For Kindness Day 
On October 22, 2006, Jeremiah Gettis completed suicide at age 21.  He wrote that he no longer wanted to live in a world in which people were so cruel. He also wrote about the devastating effect being bullied had on him. 

On Monday, October 22, we invite you to wear yellow, Jeremiah’s favorite color, a symbol of hope and your commitment to spread kindness. 

Also, please resolve to begin a new daily ritual of kindness and become part of the kindness movement!  

More info/ideas at: 
How you can be involved:

You can show your support by joining this event on Facebook, sharing this event on Facebook, and changing your profile picture to a yellow ribbon or this JHFK profile badge.  Please visit Jeremiah's Hope For Kindness on Facebook as well.

  150x150 badges:

Blogger friends:  I invite you to join the cause by sharing your own experience/thoughts on bullying, a link to this post and an image on your own page.  We hope to see yellow everywhere on Monday!

220x220 JHFK Day button to link to this post:

Thanks for your support!  It means so much.

“You must write every single day of your life... You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads... may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” ― Ray Bradbury
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