“I have the privilege to have created a space with those near and loved to me that they have no issue to come and talk if they needed to. I choose to help them emotionally, by allowing them to talk about their emotions and let them know that I will not judge them in any way.”
What better student to showcase for Bullying Prevention Month than Maria? Maria is an 11th-grade Be Strong Student Representative from Horizon City, Texas, and has, unfortunately, experienced her own share of bullying. All throughout elementary and middle school, Maria and one of her closest friends were constantly harassed and suffered through the mental anguish that came with bullying. Maria says, “One of my closest friends would get bullied as well, and to an extent it gave her the motion to try to end her life. At that point, I thought my world would end.”
Fortunately for those who are lucky enough to be in Maria’s orbit, she made the choice to show strength in adversity. She says, “Since being bullied all I have ever done was multiplied my affection and kindness to those around me. Even though we think that a hug or a smile, even a compliment will not go the extra mile, all kids would say otherwise.”
Maria has made it her mission to be an “on-call” resource for her community. She keeps her laptop always open to help anyone who might need homework help or to simply just talk. She says, “I have the privilege to have created a space with those near and loved to me that they have no issue to come and talk if they needed to. I choose to help them emotionally, by allowing them to talk about their emotions and let them know that I will not judge them in any way.”
Additionally, Maria has created a formal Be Strong peer group within her school and has learned a lot being around others who share her passion for kindness and inclusivity. Even the act of including students in the group has confirmed her mission. “The peer group has taught me that even the simplest of things, such as a compliment, or including an individual to your group, could define their entire week. In other words, it has shown me that not all conformations have to be physically shown, for example opening a door for someone, but just saying hello at the very least, may have begun the opportunity for a new friendship,” she says.
Maria works to see more in the emotional/mental/relational health space at school because she feels like it is neglected. She sees such prioritizing of academic programs and understands that mental health inevitably takes a back seat to academics. She says, “Within my community, we are mostly groups of high school students, working to achieve our associates before graduating high school, and within the work of both schools, most students forget the simplest task, ourselves!” she says, “Be Strong is helping many of my fellow peers within my community to realize that our mental health is key, and helping others come to this realization is our #1 priority as well.”
Maria is a fierce advocate and role model for those in her community. She understands that creating safe and inclusive spaces, exuding kindness, and taking mental health seriously are the first steps to address bullying. Keep up the great work, Maria!
To learn more about Be Strong’s free programs, email email@example.com. To nominate a student to lead change with Be Strong’s innovative student volunteer program, visit nominate.bestrong.global today.