Middle school is a strange time. With so many kids attempting to carve out an identity while simultaneously watching their bodies change, there’s plenty of tension—with that comes bullying.
Fortunately there are children willing to stand up to bullying at their school: students like 12-year-olds Anna Choser and Gabriella Phillips of Westside Middle School in Connecticut. I had the pleasure of speaking to these young women about a bold new program of theirs.
It all started roughly one month ago when Anna came across mean messages written about her in the bathroom stall.
“They said that I should kill myself and that I was a waste of air,” Anna said. “It made me depressed, like to a point where I hurt myself … what people said hurt bad, it felt like everyone was against me.”
Over the next few weeks, the torment continued to worsen. Anna was constantly depressed and Gabriella just couldn’t bear to see her friend put up with such unfair treatment every day.
“She’s my best friend and she was going through something so horrible. She was constantly in tears and I wanted to do something to help,” Gabriella said.
That’s when Anna and Gabriella started the “Be a Rose” Campaign.
The anti-bullying campaign uses the tagline “Be a rose in a bush of thorns” — a powerful image indeed.
“Our inspiration for that quote was that people should stand out and be themselves without having the fear of being bullied,” Anna said.
Quickly, the girls started building the campaign. They used Wix to build an official website and started a Facebook page. They called their local news stations and put together a bake sale, all with very little involvement from adults.
Since creating the campaign, they’ve received text messages from students around the area telling them about their own encounters with bullies. One girl nearly killed herself over a homophobic slur made at her expense.
While it’s absolutely awful that kids in Groton are being treated this way, their stories are finally getting out and they’re starting to receive the support they need.
“Be a Rose” raised over $500 against bullying at their bake sale in February.
Half of that money went back to the campaign itself, and the other half went to the Kind Campaign: a nationwide program created to raise awareness for and prevent girl-on-girl bullying.
That might not seem like a ton of money, but for the first ever fundraiser from such a small organization, that’s impressive!
Anna and Gabriella said they’ve never done a charitable project like this in the past but they hope their bake sale will be the first of many events to come.
Special thanks to Anna Choser and Gabriella Phillips.