you may have gathered from previous posts or my "about me" page that i am a huge michigan state university fan. our cross town (in-state) rival is the university of michigan. i don't often side with the university of michigan, though i very much respect their caliber as an academic university. when it comes to sports, that's a different story.
my sister shared with me this article about how university of michigan volleyball players are working with 4th - 6th graders to stand up to bullying.
i got shivers.
1) as a former high school volleyball player, and current recreational player, i admire volleyball athletes! i also relate very much to the pressures and bullying they may have received in high school, or at any point in their career (i think it is evil to make middle/high school girls wear spandex shorts - it's just a wide open door for all sorts of body image issues at a very impressionable age).
2) i am a survivor of bullying. i haven't blogged about it much here, but much of my body image and eating disorder is rooted from harassment i received when i was in grade school. i was tall. i was over weight. i had frizzy hair. i was one of the first kids to get braces. i just didn't fit in with the "norm" and i matured too quickly. thus, i was a prime target for all sorts of cruel name calling and social ostracism.
in grade school, its so hard to understand, process and filter where bullying stems from, or why it happens, or why it sometimes doesn't have anything to do with you (hell, sometimes even now i still don't understand). my heart goes out to all of those kids, and i so desperately want them to know that bullying is not okay, they are not alone and they can rise to the top just like anyone else. i ache in pain when i hear the increasingly frequent stories of young kids taking their lives. i cannot tell you how much it hurts me inside - wishing someone, anyone could have reached out to them and told them things will be okay, that they don't have to go through anything alone. i didn't understand that when i was that age, and i harmed my body in ways that i can't take back. but i am lucky to have had family, and very close friends reach out to me that would not let me push them away. their actions and involvement made a huge difference in my life, and i wish that for everyone, young or old, who needs someone to intervene in that way.
so i am so very thankful to the university of michigan volleyball players, and the athletic program, for doing this for these middle schoolers. i wish more people would take a stand against bullying and maybe this event can be an example for universities and schools across the nation. just helping one kid, one person can literally save a life and impact the lives of many, many others.
for more information on how you can help stop bullying, check out stopbullying.gov.