Barhite: You never know how far a little kindness will goWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
I befriended a few “unpopular” people during my adolescence.
The junior high girl who students teased because of her back brace for scoliosis. The obese band member who substituted breath mints for regularly brushing. And the neighborhood girl who no one wanted to sit with on the bus.
I hadn’t thought about these good-hearted people in a long time, and then I helped with a Sept. 19 program at Bowling Green State University, where I also work.
After her death, Scott’s family found some of her writings, which indicated, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”
It is a simple message worth repeating, especially with the school year under way.
“Our words have power to hurt, our words have power to heal,” said speaker Doug Brandl, one of Scott’s family friends.
On Sept. 17, ProMedica released a statement that indicated 20 percent of high school students reported being bullied while at school, and an estimated 16 percent reported being bullied electronically, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To help combat this, ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital runs a program called Teen Peers Educating Peers (Teen PEP). Teen PEP leaders in 12 schools address teen relationship violence, bullying, rape, sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, as well as stereotyping and neglect, the news release stated.
I was a member of Teen PEP in the mid-90s, and (unfortunately) this program will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year because bullying and being mean is more prevalent than ever.
Even 13 years after Columbine, Rachel’s Challenge resonated with BGSU students who were 5 or 6 years old when this shooting occurred because they have lived through recent school violence.
Freshmen Bekah Pastor and Sarah Spaulding were seniors at Chardon High School during the Feb. 27 shooting in Northeast Ohio.
Pastor’s sister was in the cafeteria where the shooter carried out his killings. For 45 minutes, Pastor didn’t know her sister had survived. They had bickered that morning and she worried those would be her last words.
Spaulding thought the lockdown was a drill … until it wasn’t. Her coping mechanism these days: smiling more. She also gave her mom the “biggest hug in my whole life” after the shooting.
Pastor said she tries not to judge people because she doesn’t know their struggles. She occasionally gets rattled if she hears a loud noise that she mistakes for a gunshot, but the major aftereffect of the shooting is watching how she treats others.
“I learned not to take things for granted,” Pastor said. “If I have a bad thought, I keep it to myself.”
Rachel Scott would be proud.