Many, if not all of us, have experienced some form of bullying and understand the pain that comes from it. As a long-time Advocate for Free2Luv, I reached out to some of my fellow advocates to share their experiences with bullying and how they’ve overcome it and turned their pain into power. We hope they inspire and uplift you to remind you that you are not alone.
Words have the power to lift you, tear you down, or they can even lead someone to self-harm. Thirteen-year-old Advocate Eve shared a powerful essay with us that we’d like to share with you.
Words can have a lasting impact on someone. For example, if someone were to say something rude or mean it could change someone and how it can change their views on others too. If someone praises someone then they have a better chance of feeling good about themselves. Words have a lasting impact no matter what. Why, though? I mean for centuries now a majority of how we view ourselves and others is what we or people say about ourselves. Take for example rumors. They can either build people up, but more often than not they can ruin people. Just by uttering one sentence, it can help change people for the better or make them question everything they are. The more we build people up, the better we should feel.
So why do we bully people? Is it simply to make ourselves feel good? Or does it have a deeper and more complex meaning? People say that people bully to feel better about themselves. Now I am not saying that some bullies don’t bully to feel better about themselves, I’m sure some do. What if it is a deeper physiological reason? My theory is that most bullies actually bully so that they feel safer, less vulnerable, powerful, respected, and because of that less likely to be picked on. I don’t think anyone likes to be bullied (if you do, well you do you I guess), but I’m guessing a majority don’t like it. It still happens though and is unavoidable. If we spoke in kindness and compassion though, our lives would be so much better.
Lasting impacts of words. Think about that sentence for a minute. What comes to mind? Praise, worry… many different things. People compliment us, and make us feel better when we had a hard day, or they can make us feel terrible and want to die. We should always be careful about what we say and how we say things because of that. So next time before you speak, think about what kind of imprint you want to leave behind.
Be careful about the words you choose to share with others. Use your words for good, to spread kindness, and to uplift the people around you.
The brave Madeleine Pace shares with us her story and how she turns her pain into power. Madeleine is a 15-year-old TV/Film, stage, and Voice actress, dancer, and longtime F2L advocate.
When Madeleine was about 7 years old, she was a part of the Kindness Cabaret that was put on by another youth advocate for Free2Luv. “After the cabaret, I was like ‘I want to do that so I contacted Free2Luv.” Now, Madeleine is making a difference in her own community by leading workshops to promote the importance of mental health, and kindness and to help youth end bullying. Madeleine has also been recognized as a youth advocate for Free2Luv and has been honored with two of The President’s Volunteer Service Awards.
Not only does Madeleine have a passion for spreading kindness, but she is also very involved in theater and the arts. “I’m very fortunate to go to an arts school that allows me to pursue my passion every single day for 4 1/2 hours… I’m a part of the theater program. I’m very fortunate to be in such a creative environment and surrounded by a community that allows you to prosper,” Madeleine said.
In her video, Madeleine shares her story of witnessing bullying and what she does to eliminate exclusion and hurtful acts at her own school. She also includes tools that she has used in her own experience to combat bullying.
Chance Caeden is another empowering individual who has experienced bullying. He shares his voice through the arts as an actor and advocate for Free2Luv. Chance shared with us that, “knowing that you have the ability to build others up instead of tearing them down is powerful! Having lunch with someone who is sitting alone, saying ‘Hi’ and introducing yourself to a new kid at your school, and making the effort to include everyone is the power of kindness!”
With his empowering vulnerability, Chance shares the story of a time he was bullied. “I was bullied all throughout middle school and junior high. The way I walked, my long hair, and just, in general, being perceived as ‘different’ allowed me a LOT of alone time as I ate lunch alone every day during 7th and 8th grade.”
His powerful statement was followed by three tools he suggests for anyone who is also experiencing bullying: “Talk to someone you trust, know that you are not alone, remember that junior high/high school is not forever and things DO get better!”
A few facts about Chance are that he was just 5 years old in his first acting role in “Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock” where he played a spider. He was born a micro-preemie “weighing in at 1 pound 15 ounces and 13 inches long,” a “crazy cat dad” as he’d like to say because of his love for collecting all things cats, lived in Kansas until he was nine, and lastly, traveled to Thailand volunteering at an elephant sanctuary over the Summer.
Chance adds a quote that his mother always reminds him of, “High school isn’t real life and this is just a blip on your life radar. You WILL get through this and do amazing things!”
As an advocate for Free2Luv and creator of her own non-profit Brianni Walker’s Stop Bullying Me, Brianni Walker has become a force for youth to look up to. Walker’s powerful story of growing up has shown her that she has the tools to heal after her hardship. In this interview, she shares those tools and what it’s like advocating for kindness and empowering those around her. Walker is only 15 years old and has shown that nobody is alone and wants everyone to know bullying can be found in all walks of life and in many different situations and needs to end.
Through her non-profit, Brianni explains that she would like to “educate youth on bullying and to also help mandate bullying into a federal law…bullying (does) not just (happen) at school, it happens at workplaces, it happens to adults. (Bullying) doesn’t just have to be someone picking on you, it could be someone hurting you or a domestic violence situation, those are all (forms of) bullying.”
Brianni shares what she does to empower others to take a stand to stop bullying. She truly is a strong, young individual who also has a tough story to share. Sometimes, our first experience with bullying happens at home, and this was the case for Brianni. We sat down with her and she courageously shared how she overcame bullying and abuse by reaching out to a family member for support. Her bravery to share that story and what she did to overcome the experience and hardships help us and others realize there are tools out there to help heal that pain. Examples such as —and are not limited to— going to trusted family members, finding positivity in one’s self, using the arts, starting conversations, and asking for help.
We want to thank Brianni again for her bravery and for inspiring those around her to be a part of Free2Luv and to share with the viewers what it means to her to be a powerful vessel in her community and many others.
“Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” ~ Miah Green
Miah Green takes a stand against bullying, in hopes of creating a world that is bully-free and full of kindness. Miah is a 16-year-old aerialist, cirque performer, actress, model, and Free2Luv advocate. She bravely shares her story of experiencing bullying in her own life.
Miah says “I always knew I was different from most kids. I was active in my community, training aerials, acting, and modeling.” After earning her first Presidential Volunteer Service Award, she wanted to share that accomplishment with her class and a classmate of hers spread a rumor that she was lying about receiving the award. “When I would tell my mom about the different situations, she would say, ‘just be kind, you have no idea what they are dealing with that is making them act like that.’ I know it seems small to be teased and not as horrifying as stories you hear now, but it has stuck with me to this day and it just started to snowball until the decision was made to homeschool me.”
Through her experiences, Miah shares great suggestions of ways you can turn your pain into power included in her video.
She is an avid community service participant and has won numerous awards for making a difference in her community. With Free2Luv, in 2019, she was awarded the “Difference Maker Award” for the service she provides for youth. As an advocate for Free2Luv, Miah has been able to perform as an actress and aerialist in the TOUR DE FORCE cirque show with Troupe Du Cirque.
From these experiences, Miah’s fight to end bullying grew into her advocacy with Free2Luv, “I didn’t like the way it made me feel and I wanted to empower others to not only know how to handle a bullying situation but hopefully help those that bully be more accepting of others,” Green said.