Former Lisle student starts campaign to encourage kids to ‘stay strong’ against bullying
|Morgan Fairley, 20, started a group to fight against bullies after she said she was bullied in high school. (Staff photo by Matthew Piechalak — email@example.com)|
Hurt people hurt people.
That was a message Morgan Fairley said she learned the hard when she was a student at Lisle High School. But now, the 20-year-old cheerleading instructor hopes to break the cycle of bullying through a foundation devoted to inner strength and simple kindness that she and her mother, Debbie, started.
“Bullying is a problem and we have to do something to stop it,” Morgan said.
As both a victim of bullying and an instructor to young people who shared their own tales of being bullied, Morgan said she needed to do something to break the cycle.
“I had no intention of starting anything like this until I was bullied,” she said.
When she was a senior at Lisle High School, Morgan said one of her long-time friends started hanging out with a new crowd — a group of girls she described as mean. Morgan said she wasn’t comfortable with her friend’s new clique and chose to sever ties.
“They took offense at that and took our frustrations on me,” Morgan said.
She said some of those frustrations included unkind comments on social media sites such as Facebook, dumping numerous political candidates’ signs in her yard and vandalism to her house and cars.
“I didn’t even go to my own graduation because I wanted to avoid them,” said Morgan, who earned her diploma in 2011.
Meanwhile, as a cheerleading coach, Morgan said several of her athletes have shared their own tales of bullying. One story in particular stuck with her. She said one of her athletes was bullied so badly that she ended up switching schools.
“It broke my heart to hear she had to leave her school,” Morgan said. “It opened my eyes and I knew I needed to do something.”
Morgan said she talked with her mother about the incidents of bullying and the two developed an idea to band people together to stand up to bullies. In October, the two created an orange bracelet with the printed words “Say No to Bullying” and “Stay Strong” and are giving them out to people who pledge to not be a bully.
“It’s a simple message. We’re saying, ‘Stay strong.’ There is always someone to help you. You’re not alone and you should look for help.” Morgan said.
The mother and daughter handed out the bracelets to Morgan’s students at a Lake Zurich cheerleading academy. In addition, they sent sample packets of the bracelets to other cheerleading academies across the United States, and even to the United Kingdom. They said the response has been overwhelming.
“People are reaching out to us from all over and taking the pledge not to bully and if they are being bullied, to tell someone,” Debbie said.
The Fairleys are selling the bracelets for $1 to raise money to travel to give talks about their experiences and to participate in an anti-bullying march next year in Washington, D.C.
Debbie said groups such as the junior class at Lisle High School are selling the bracelets to fund other anti-bullying projects.
Morgan said it’s necessary that people understand the importance of simple kindness to counter the effects of bullying.
“People don’t know that a simple ‘Hello’ can have a major impact,” she said. “My locker mate in high school always had a kind word in the morning, and he’ll never know how much that meant to me when I was being bullied.”
How to help
To donate to Kind Campaign or purchase a “Stay Strong” bracelet for $1, visit the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jsntb?ref=hl.
Visitors are encouraged to leave their own “stay strong” stories or words of encouragement.
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