The Story of Izach Butler & SFTS

This is the story of an amazing young man who went out of his way to make a difference in his community and school. 9 years old at the time, Izach Butler reached out to Kirk Smalley from Stand for the Silent to do a speaking event in the attempt to eradicate bullying through awareness and education. Not only did Izach manage to bring Kirk in, he created a movement. The following is an excerpt from one of Izach’s followers on Facebook: “[Izach] is doing amazing things to help others and our New Castle Community to get bullying out of our schools. We as a community need to be rallying behind him and make people listen! Thank you Izach Butler..we are proud of you!”.

Izach Butler campaigning for SFTS

This is an excerpt from Stand for the Silent’s Website:

“You see, 10-year-old Izach is tired of bullying.  Not just the bullying he’s experienced, but the bullying he knows is being endured by others.  So he thought long and hard about what to do and decided he was going to handle things himself.  As a result, Izach has spent his entire summer holding fundraisers, rummage sales, car washes, etc. to raise enough money to pay travel expenses for SFTS to come to his town.

And he hasn’t stopped there.  Izach is determined to help SFTS carry this fight far beyond New Castle, IN.  He has already earned enough to pay expenses for this trip, but is still working to collect donations.  We at SFTS are honored to know Izach ‘End Bullying’ Butler and have him on our side.”

By the end of the fundraising, which involved car washes, meetings with the Mayor, among many other things, Izach was able to raise over $5,000. Wow! What an amazing story. And the lesson of this story is that anybody can make a change; anyone can take a situation into their own hands, and create a movement that truly makes a difference in thousands of people’s lives.

From teachers to kids: Inspire & Be Inspired in the Modern World

As I was watching the Amanda Todd video during an in-service session, the part “I have nobody. I need someone” really struck me. I knew that Amanda was not alone in her thinking; there are pre-teens and teens all over the world who feel the same way.
I wanted to reach out to the students where I work, Delsea Regional High School, to let them know that they were NOT alone.
After the in-service I wrote a script; it was all single lines that could easily be memorized and said by the people participating in the video. It took me about 15 minutes to complete.
Then I e-mailed the script to the entire staff and asked for volunteers who would be willing to participate. Within minutes I had about 15 volunteers. The rest signed on soon after.
On the day of filming, I set up my personal HD video camera on a stack of books on a student desk (I didn’t have a tripod) and moved a side table in front of the Smartboard for the participants to sit on so the screen shot of Amanda could be seen behind them.Three copies of the script were printed and each person was given two-three lines to say for the filming. I fed them the lines, filmed it one by one, and wrote down who said each line for later reference. Shooting took about 20 minutes total.

Once I got home, I transfered the footage into Windows Movie Maker, used my list to put it in order, and then added some text and music before I uploaded it to Vimeo. That whole process took me about an hour.

Two days later, the video was show school-wide in the Olweus anti-bullying session that were being held in each classroom.

Shyanne Wilson: “Get A Life”

Sprigeo had the pleasure of meeting another Hero: Shyanne Wilson! Hopefully you will use Shyanne and her story as a source of inspiration to take a stand against bullying, wherever you may be!
If you ask any songwriter what the first step is to penning a song, they will tell you to write what you know! For 10 year old, Shyanne Wilson that wasn’t hard to do. She, like so many other young kids today, has been the victim of bullies. Shyanne hails from a very musical family, so it isn’t odd that she has been singing and writing her own little songs since pre-school. But, last year she started singing lyrics around the house that got the attention of her dad in a big way.
“Shyanne was singing lines in her room about all the bullying she was going through and I was instantly inspired” said Robby. Together they took all the horrible things that had been taking place and decided to write a song that would be a voice of encouragement for others going through the same thing and let them know they are not alone and not the problem. “Literally it took me 10 minutes to piece it all together”, says her dad, “it was a God send, no doubt.” Robby played the home demo he made for producer friend Jamey Perrenot and the next thing you know, they were cutting a track on her!

Shyanne is very passionate about using the song to help stop bullying, which has become a wide spread epidemic facing kids all over the world today. Proceeds from the song will go to various anti-bully organizations that Shyanne is partnering with globally.

“In most cases, kids learn from adults, but for Shyanne, she has set examples already in her young life that many of us adults can learn from and I couldn’t be more proud”, says her dad. Shyanne is not only talented and driven beyond her years, but very determined to make a difference in the lives of others! One of the many reasons why we have her as a Hero on the Heroes Project!

Tiara Nock, Kelsey Romeo & Jessica Ippolito: “Going All Out”

While attending the first Gay-Straight Alliance meeting of the school year on Sep. 18, a fellow student at my high school, Kelsey, told me about a video from the website allout.org. As the number of bullying awareness initiatives increases across the country, many organizations such as allout.org are developing activities that guide educators, parents, students, and citizens in their fight against this national epidemic. The result was a video as a part of the “Going All Out” Campaign.

Tiara’s actions just go to show that taking a stand against bullying is as simple as being inspired to act, getting a little guidance from great friends and teachers, and pouring a lot of passion into that which you are doing. Hopefully Tiara, Kelsey and Jessica’s actions will be the inspiration for you to act up against bullying!

A little bit about Tiara, Kelsey & Jessica:

Tiara Nock

Tiara is a 17 year old senior at Delsea Regional High School in Franklinville, NJ. She is involved in many clubs and activities such as theater, dance, the National Art Honor Society, YODA (Youth Organized for Disaster Assistance), and the Delta Eta Sigma service fraternity. Other than making the “Going All Out” bullying video for her high school, her greatest memories – by far – involve volunteering for her community and helping those in need. Tiara is looking forward to go to college to study English and Communications. Her dream job is to work in New York City for a major magazine publisher.

Kelsey Romeo

Kelsey Romeo is a 17 year old senior at Delsea Regional High School in Franklinvillle, NJ. She is involved in many activities at her school including the Key Club, the school musicals, the Delsea Marching Band (Color Guard Captain), and her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (Co-Student Leader). After she graduates, Kelsey plans on majoring in acting to receive her BFA. She then wants to attend graduate school to get a master’s in Theater Education.

Jessica Ippolito

Dr. Jessica Ippolito has been an English teacher at Delsea Regional High School in Franklinville, NJ since 1995. For the past seven years she has been serving as the volunteer adviser for the Gay-Straight Alliance. The motto of the GSA, “Educate and Advocate,” is one that runs through all of their meetings and projects. Along with monthly activities, Delsea’s GSA students also participate in the national Day of Silence, they create a front-lobby display for LGBT History month, have created the video/Facebook campaign “Names CAN Hurt Me,” they attend the annual James Wheeler Youth Panel at the Equality Forum in Philadelphia, and have raised close to $4,000 in the past three years for the charitable organization, The Gabriel Project.

In the summer of 2011, Dr. Ippolito founded the international social experiment http://www.handsupthepose.com which is now an organization where people around the world can help charities earn donations from sponsors by just putting their hands up in pictures.

The Interview with Sprigeo!

Inspiring! So now that you have seen what others have done, write in and let us know what YOU have done!

The Justice League, Blake School, MN

We had the privilege of meeting with a few members of the Blake School, Justice League. The Justice League was formed to support work that recognizes and values the different lived experiences of individuals in our community, to acknowledge systems of privilege and oppression that exist related to various aspects of identity, and to endeavor to root out injustice and seek equity through action, education and support.

Members of the Justice League are expected to participate in educational experiences that allow them to grow in their understanding of systems of privilege and oppression. Weekly meetings serve to further learn from each other and provide support and feedback to them in their work. Each Justice League member is involved in an action plan that is carried out in the community during the school year. Ultimately, the Justice League strives to actively participate in the creation of a courageous, engaged learning community.

Read more about the Justice League

Interview Part 1

Interview Part 2

Zack and Thomas Eller, Woofemdown.com, Alpharetta, GA

Knowing that there are 12 million homeless pets in shelters in this country has motivated Zack and Thomas to be part of the solution to the homeless pet problem.   In 2005, Zack and Thomas began volunteering on Saturdays for pet rescue organization in Atlanta.  They soon wanted to make dog biscuits for the animals they saw there.   The dog biscuits became a huge hit as they were fed to the homeless pets and sold at the adoption site to raise money for the organization.

Zack and Thomas wanted to do more.  With the guidance of their parents, they set up a web site in the spring of 2007 to sell their dog biscuits.  They have donated approximately $13,000.00 to over a dozen pet rescue groups since they began baking biscuits.

In 2006, Zack earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his hours spent helping homeless pets.  They both earned the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

In July of 2008, Zack and Thomas were honored to be chosen by Disney’s Wondertime Magazine and the nonprofit Points of Light Foundation as Grand Prize winners in the “Littlest Volunteers” contest.  The Mayor and City Council of the City of Milton declared October 6th “Zack and Thomas Adopt a Shelter Pet” day and awarded the brothers with an official Proclamation.  They were awarded the “Shining World Compassion Award” in recognition for their efforts.  Zack was named the middle school State Honoree in ”The Prudential Spirit of Community Award” program, which is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service.  The Mayor and City Council of the City of Milton declared March 16th as “Zack Eller Day” and presented him with an official Proclamation.

Zack was awarded the 2009 Young Hero of North Fulton Award from the Roswell Rotary Club and the Teaching Museum North.  He also received the DAR Citizenship Award.

Zack was a finalist for the 2010 Humane Teen of the Year Award.  He received an Honorable Mention for his exceptional contributions to animal protection from the Humane Society of the United States. Additionally, he was the local store winner in the Kohl’s Kids Who Care contest.

The City of Milton, on October 17, 2011, awarded Zack and Thomas with a Proclamation for their continued work on behalf of homeless pets.  The Mayor and City Council of the City of Milton dedicated October, 17 officially as “Zack and Thomas Eller Adopt A Shelter Pet Day” in the City of Milton.

Kylie Morgan, Teen Singer and Songwriter

Listen Kylie’s Interview with David Bozin and Joe Bruzzese at Sprigeo

When Kylie Morgan first heard about the tragic suicide of Irish-born, South Hadley, Mass., teenager, Phoebe Prince, she reacted in the best way she knew how – she picked up her guitar and started composing a song. For the 15-year-old singer/songwriter from Newcastle, Okla., it was a natural reaction and she hopes her song, “Phoebe” will send a message of support and compassion to those suffering the abuse of bullying as well as a call to action for those witnessing it to reach out and “be a friend.”

Visit Kylie’s page online at Pacer.org

Kylie PSAs from Boiling Point Media on Vimeo.

Veteran songwriter, Liz Hengber who co-wrote the song along with Morgan and country music singer/songwriter, Rob Crosby, said the song happened almost by accident. “It wasn’t as if we came together to write a song about Phoebe or bullying,” said Hengber. “Phoebe’s story was all over the news. We were talking about how tragic it was and I was interested in Kylie’s perspective because she was so close to Phoebe’s age. And then someone said, ‘man, people really need to understand how much what they do matters,’ and from there, the song took on a life of its own.”