Activists speak out at annual anti-bullying event

Friends of PACER’s seventh annual Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying, presented by the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees brought kids, parents and teachers together Saturday at Mount Normandale Lake Park in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The event kicked off National Bullying Prevention Month, which was founded by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center in 2006.

Hosted by FOX 9’s own Jason Matheson of “The Jason Show,” the event also featured Mandy Chick, a 14-year-old race car driver from Kansas who was recently named Missouri State Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and Madeline Van Ert, Miss Minnesota 2016

“Raising awareness is so important because we want to make sure that communities are having a conversation about what they can do to address bullying,” said Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.

Hertzog said that everyone should have a role in bullying prevention.

“It’s not just up to our schools to fix it or our kids to fix it,” she said. “So often we’ll say things like, ‘it’s just kids being kids,’ or ‘bullying is just a natural part of growing up.’ And we know that bullying impacts not only kids’ education because kids that are bullied don’t want to go to school, but it also impacts physical and emotional health to things like depression, anxiety and things like self-harm.”

Hertzog said the organization wants kids to be kind, accepted, inclusive and that “those are qualities that will actually help prevent bullying.”

Jason Matheson said accepting the invitation and easy decision.

“I was bullied violently for years growing up, so this is a great cause, preventing bullying,” he said.

Another participant said she was bullied for the first time in fourth grade.

“I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence, and I felt like no one wanted me,” she said.

“So much of bullying is about feeling alone, so when kids are supported by others and feel that they have people looking out for them, it makes a huge impact on the issue,” Hertzog said.