Eleven year-old resident makes film about his experience
As many as 10,000 students and millions online said no to bullying last week in Inglewood. The Be Strong LIVE Tour came to the Forum, giving young people a voice and support for what has become a major public health and safety issue.
And a rising star in Inglewood produced a documentary about his experiences as a survivor of bullying.
Working with the Los Angeles County Office of Education and the Inglewood Mayor’s Office, Be Strong LIVE was broadcast on The California Channel, which has a reach of five million homes. The event brought insight on ways to identify and stop bullying both on and offline, and how victims can find support.
It featured remarks by inspirational public speaker and YouTube sensation Nick Vujicic and other guests -- including best-selling author, Broadway performer and motivational speaker Jessie Funk as host and music by the Los Angeles trio, Breaking Heights.
Vujicic, who was born without arms and legs, knows all too well how vicious some children can be, especially when one has physical disabilities. “If you leave a seed of lies in your heart and in your mind and you don’t know the truth, you will die with the lie. And I started dying because I started believing what I was told,” he said.
With God’s help and the love and support of his family, Vujicic said he found strength and purpose in his life. Now, he is a sought after speaker who brings hope to other young people sidelined by the effects of bullying.
According to the 2014 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 22 percent of students have been bullied on school property nationwide, 13.9 percent have seriously considered attempting suicide, and 10.2 percent of students did not go to school because they felt unsafe.
As part of its effort to provide support to victims of bullying, Be Strong created and maintains the Be Strong app, available for free on iOS or Android, which provides a wide range of support for students and families dealing with bullying.
The app includes access to a 24-hour hotline and crisis text line, as well as updated information on social services available in the user's vicinity anywhere in the U.S. Be Strong events are available live and for free through the Be Strong app.
"Bullying thrives when people don't take action to address this serious social issue," said Ashleigh Cromer, president of Be Strong, which also provides support through innovative tools, resources, education and partnerships. "We can no longer have segmented discussions on this. Rather we must heighten the visibility and impact to ensure that children, parents, grandparents, caregivers, governments, corporations and nonprofits are all participating in the discussion."
Joshua Apparicio, an 11 year-old Inglewood resident also knows how cruel some kids can be. And he is working to create a world where bullying will become a thing of the past. He created a documentary called “I Like Bow Ties, Not Bullying,” which is on YouTube.
“The reason I wear bow ties is because they make me feel distinguished,” said the very eloquent and well-dressed youth, whose positive spirit inspired the audience at the Oct. 18 Inglewood Council meeting. Johua came to thank the council for its support of his work.
During the time that Joshua and his mom Shirmin were homeless, kids made fun of him and even assaulted him.
“I get a headache thinking about it,” he said. “I knew as soon as I stepped foot into the school I would be bullied.” Joshua remembers “being kicked in the groin so hard I couldn’t walk home.”
“On average 160,000 children across the country don’t go to school because of fear of being bullied. Joshua appears to be a prodigy, and so my advice to Joshua has always been to keep your eyes on the prize,” Mayor James Butts said.
It is advice well taken. The young writer, film maker, and inspirational speaker dreams of becoming either “a neurosurgeon, an English professor or a criminal law attorney.”
Be Strong is a global movement and non-profit organization dedicated to stopping bullying in schools and society at large while raising awareness of this major social issue through empowerment and resilience training. Be Strong is motivated by creating a community to inspire, interact, ignite, intervene and impact the lives of children in a transformative and sustainable way. Additional information on Be Strong's events and initiatives is available at http://bestrong.global/ or (954) 246-5852. Be Strong is a 501(c)3 and all donations are 100% tax-deductible.