Yesterday I had the chance to attend a Be a STAR rally at Lake Nona Middle School, and to say it was a moving experience would be an understatement!
Be a STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) was founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE in April 2011 to help take action against bullying! Be a STAR has also created a partnership with 58 alliance members, including National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN), GLAAD, STOMP Out Bullying, The Ad Council and the United Federation of Teachers all working together to get the message out!
The mission of Be a STAR is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness. Be a STAR promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals and with respect because everyone is a star in their own right.
What is truly amazing is that since it’s launch of the Be a STAR website over 30,000 people from all 50 US states and from 91 countries have taken the pledge to put an end bullying!
In addition to a free anti-bullying curriculum for teachers created by NEA HIN and True Educator, Inc., online resources for parents to help their children deal with bullying, and local Be a STAR chapters in schools and communities, two to three times a month WWE Superstars and Divas visit communities with celebrities and local officials to reinforce the Be a STAR message at rallies!
And these Be a STAR rallies truly drive home the message that everyone can do something to help put an end to bullying!
The atmosphere of the rally was pretty awesome! Kids who were relieved to hear that they weren’t alone and had no reason to be ashamed of the bullying they had experienced, WWE talent that opened their hearts to share their own experiences, and a Lake Nona Middle School faculty and staff committed to making sure that their students had every tool they could give them to make sure that they were successful in a healthy learning environment.
As Xavier Woods spoke about the different kinds of bullying, it was eye-opening to see how many of these children had been affected by cyber-bullying…even on Instagram.
Summer Rae shared how she felt when she was teased about being ‘too skinny’ while her friends were bystanders who would just watch it happen instead of speaking up out of fear. She also reinforced to the audience that while she plays a not-so-nice character in the ring, that she does not think that is the right way to treat others and that they should act like the person Summer Rae and not her on-air persona.
Then Sheamus took to the podium with cheers that were heard clear across town! Sheamus really hit home that even at his size, he was often bullied. Sheamus also spoke about not blaming yourself for being a target of bullies, and that through understanding and action we can all help put an end to bullying.
And among chants of Don’t be a bully, be a STAR the rally was over.
It was really nice to overhear the students talking about what they had just experienced and things they personally wanted to change as I waited for my chance to talk to Sheamus, Summer Rae, and Xavier Woods.
This was Summer Rae’s first Be a STAR rally, and she was really excited to have the opportunity to participate and make a difference!
It was an important message for us today that speaking up and not being a bystander is very, very important! When kids are a bystander and say ‘I didn’t see it so I wasn’t a bully’, it’s helping show that it’s just as bad.
Xavier Woods really got the crowd pumped up and ready to hear his experiences when he was cyber bullied.
I did well in school, studied all the time, I was into comic books and video games, and I was the definition of a nerd. And people called me that in a derogatory sense, and so I think that the biggest thing for me besides the cyber-bullying was just completely cutting people off, blocking them, deleting messages, and ignoring them completely was being okay with myself. So once I accepted this is me, this is who I am, I don’t care what anybody thinks that was the last thing I had to get over before I was done with bullying.
Sheamus is a Be a STAR veteran, and I wanted to know if any of the children had ever reached out to him after speaking at a Be a STAR rally.
It happens all the time. I get a lot of tweets from kids who have realized they were being bullies and why and now they’ve stopped and even kids who found the courage to speak up and help. They tell me stories and send me pictures.. They tell me how they felt hearing that even I have been bullied, and it is just wonderful knowing that I have helped make a difference to hopefully stop bullying.
People often ask my why I am such a huge WWE fan who wants to share my enthusiasm, and quite honestly this is a big reason why. The WWE has shown a dedication to help end bullying through education, resources, and reinforcement from the WWE Superstars and Divas who truly speak from their heart to these children!
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