Some sixth-grade girls in Seattle have started an anti-bulllying campaign in an attempt to do something positive with their frustration over politicians’ bad behavior. Now that’s something to feel good about.
Three sixth-grade girls heard mean comments during the recent presidential campaign that made them think politicians could use lessons in good behavior, so they’re doing some teaching.
They created a campaign called D.C. Bully Busters, which encourages kids to send letters to political leaders in Washington, D.C., schooling them on how to deal with bullying. The girls also are reminding the rest of us that we can meet negative stuff with positive action.
“Being mad at people isn’t going to help,” Lola Hurst said. She and Emma Coopersmith are students at Seattle Girls’ School, and their friend Lilah Amon-Lucas attends Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences. The 11-year-olds started the campaign, which includes several other students now. They have a website (there was some parental help with that) and have gotten about 70 letters from students so far, including some as far away as New York City.
I heard about the project from a couple of their parents, and I asked the girls to tell me more.
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The three started talking with friends after the election, and even though the conversations were prompted by Donald Trump’s campaign and election, they said the project isn’t just about him. So they’re sending letters to leaders of both political parties.
The website includes addresses for several congressional leaders, and it offers suggestions for what a letter should say, including the three R’s of bullying, something Lilah said she learned about in the fourth grade: recognize, refuse and report.
Each of the girls has been bullied. Emma has type 1 diabetes, and she has been made fun of because of it. “I’m one of those people who is silent in the moment, but then goes home and cries, and I want to be someone who stands up to bullies.” And, she said, “Not only as a kid in school do we need to know how to stand up to bullies and how to stand up for our peers, but our politicians need to know so they can represent us.”
Lilah said, “I have been bullied by boys about being a girl and my capabilities as a girl.” A couple of months ago in physical-education class, the students were supposed to form groups of four. A boy was passing a ball to his friend and she asked if she could join. He said no, so she got between them, and the first boy said he was going to kick the ball at her head. “It went right to my foot and I kicked it and said, ‘Yeah, kicked like a girl.’”
People have told Lola, “You love the color pink because you’re a girl, right? Or you love to bake because you’re a girl.” But she said people shouldn’t be judged because they do something that’s seen as stereotypical, or because they don’t.
The anti-bullying campaign started, Lilah said, with girls “responding to all the awful stuff that was said during the election about women and their bodies and their capabilities.”
Leaders are supposed to be role models, Emma said. “My sister saw that ‘Access Hollywood’ tape,” she said. “She’s almost 9. She shouldn’t have to see that — no one should have to see that.”
So who are their role models?
“Emma Watson, like 100 percent Emma Watson,” Lilah said, but not as much because of her acting as for her activism. Lilah likes Watson’s HeForShe campaign because it encourages men to be feminists, too.
Emma said her role models are all the great women in her life because, “they embrace me for who I am.”
And she respects Hillary Clinton because she lost her 2008 campaign but was brave enough to run for president again.
Lola had to think a bit more about her role models. “I look up to my dad because he’s an entrepreneur like me.” Her father is Imperative CEO Aaron Hurst and founder of the Taproot Foundation. Lola wants to have her own interior-decorating company some day.
The three girls are role models themselves, and they’re already thinking about what comes next.
Lilah’s mother, Elizabeth Amon, said “I have so much admiration for how articulate they are and how hardworking and passionate they are about the issue.” The girls couldn’t vote in the presidential election or donate money, but they found a way to play a role in the political process.
I was thinking about what lies ahead, and these kids gave me a reason to feel good about the possibilities.