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My whole world stopped while doing research for a project. I came across an article about Ashlynn Connor, a little 10 year old girl who rather than go to school that day hung herself so she wouldn’t have to face the bully one more time. She represents one of the 4,600 kids that take their own lives, every single year in the USA. In that moment, I burst into tears declaring, “Enough!” I couldn’t stand to see another bright light snuffed out so early.
While I did not know Ashlynn personally, I feel that I was divinely guided to come across that article that day. I could feel her pain because I, too, had been bullied my whole life and know the devastating effects.
As the youngest of 4 children (10, 8, and 5 years old than me), I was the family’s little “surprise.” I always felt like the outsider who was disregarded, judged as wrong, and often told, “You don’t know what you are talking about.” While I know my family does the best they can and truly love me, those words and circumstances cut deeply. I grew up feeling like something was wrong with me and that I wasn’t worth listening to the wonderful gift of being bullied is that I wanted to understand the human psyche. I’m sure it is why I’ve always been so drawn to social work and learning about the human mind, personality types, and emotional intelligence.
Although I originally started my career as a third-grade teacher, my strength was never in teaching math and science. Instead, I took a special interest in focusing on the emotional development of the kids and quickly began to realize that the classroom setting wasn’t for me. Social work was my real calling. And, thus, I went back to school for my Masters Degree to become a school-based social worker.
In this new role, I started implementing new mentoring programs and, as a result, discipline problems dropped. My secret? I made the “bully” the mentor. Under my supervision, they had to figure out how to resolve conflicts. As a result, they felt empowered with increased confidence … and the behavior issues deceased.
In the summer, I started a sailing school and designed a specific program for autistic and emotionally challenged children. Like all of the rest of us, they just wanted love and somebody to believe in them.
Out on the sailboat, I gave them opportunities to raise the sails, steer the boat, and you know what? The results were incredible. Some of these kids, who were completely non-verbal and who ‘the system’ had given up on were out there actually sailing a boat! This speaks volumes to the power of creating confident kids.
From my years of working as a teacher and school-based social worker, and as a transformational strategist for entrepreneurs, I knew that I had answers and solutions that could change the face of bullying.
By teaching parents, grandparents, teachers, and kids to focus on their Talents, Abilities, and Gifts (TAGs), they could learn to love themselves from the inside out. What, I say is, “TAG Yourself for Success™ each day.
So on the day, I read about Ashlyn Conner, the Create Confident Kids to Eliminate Bullying program was born. It has since become a non-profit 501(c)3 Confidence Eliminates Bullying, Inc.