“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” – Bob Kerrey

During my freshman year, I was the victim of bullying.  As I look back on that experience, I realize now how powerful a simple act of kindness can be.  I learned through that experience how important it is that I implement kindness in my life, school, and community through my story, words, and actions.

Early on during my freshman year, a couple of domineering people in my group of friends were doing things such as judging and making fun of people and influencing the others in the group to do the same, that were against my moral compass.  As I sat at the lunch table each day, I realized how uncomfortable I felt in that environment and I came to the decision that I needed to separate myself from the group and build new friendships based on kindness and respect.  This decision caused a rift with my good friends who remained in the group.  After standing up for what I believed in, the bullying began.  A girl from the group taunted me through social media and at school — told me that I was weak, that I had no friends because nobody liked me, and that I didn’t matter.  Although I tried to not let her words and actions affect me, they deeply impacted me and I fell into a state of depression.  Throughout the time I was bullied, I kept quiet, thinking that seeking help would support the bully’s accusation that I was weak.

When I was being bullied, one girl, who I did not know very well, invited me over to her lunch table to sit with her and her friends.  To her, this may have been just a simple gesture, but to me, it was so much more.  Her kindness brought light to my darkness and helped me get away from the people who were negatively affecting me.  I am incredibly thankful for the girl’s kindness and was moved by the power that her simple act of kindness had on my life.  Because of her one simple act of kindness, I was able to start to overcome a negative experience, grow stronger as an individual, meet many amazing people, and build new friendships.  I also am incredibly thankful for the kindness of others — peers, parents, family, teachers — the list goes on and on. Without their help, support and kindness, I would not be in the place I am today.

This past year, I started “Kind is Cool”, an anti-bullying campaign.  Through my “Kind is Cool” campaign, I have shared my story with others in my community and in other communities, in an effort to bring more awareness to bullying and to encourage more acts of kindness in our communities.  I want to turn my negative experience into a positive for others.  I hope that my “Kind is Cool” campaign helps show the power of a single act of kindness, discourage bullying, and prevent even one other person from having to go through what I experienced.