Several schools in the area and one local hotel will be hosting anti-bullying programs on Tuesday (Jan. 8) and Wednesday (Jan. 9) this week.
The Coalition for Cultural Awareness and Livingston County C2000 are asking localites to join in welcoming Kirk Smalley, who will be presenting "Stand for the Silent," a bullying awareness and informational program, at Southwest Livingston County R-1, Ludlow, on Tuesday, Jan. 8, starting at 8:50 a.m.; at the Chillicothe Comfort Inn and Suites on Tuesday, Jan. 8, starting at 6 p.m.; at the Chillicothe High School, on Wednesday, Jan. 9, starting at 8:50 a.m.; and at the Chillicothe Middle School, on Wednesday, Jan. 9, starting at 1 p.m.
"Stand for the Silent" was started in 2010 by a group students from the Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City Upward Bound Chapter, after they heard the story of Kirk and Laura Smalley's son, Ty Field-Smalley. At 11 years old, Ty took his life after being suspended from school for retaliating against a student who had been bullying him for over two years.
"Stand for the Silent" exists as a platform to allow Kirk and Laura to share their story and offer education and tools that they hope will prevent their tragedy from happening to another child, and within another family. Kirk and Laura's mission is to continue to change kids' lives, and to bring awareness to bullying and the real devastation it causes. Since May 2010, Kirk and Laura Smalley have traveled to hundreds of schools and spoken with more than 580,000 kids.
In March 2011, Kirk and Laura met privately with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House prior to attending the first ever White House conference on bullying. Their story is featured in Director Lee Hirsch's feature film, Bully. The Smalleys have been invited to a number of conferences on bullying, and met with Lady Gaga this spring at the launch of the Born This Way Foundation -- an American non-profit organization which celebrates individuality and empowers young people.
Per their press release, the SFTS program "addresses the issue of school bullying with an engaging, factual, and emotional methodology. With the help of student leaders, Kirk Smalley presents his inspirational story, and students are shown first-hand the life and death consequences of bullying. Through this unique approach, lives are changed for the better. Students, some for the first time, develop an empathetic awareness through education and understanding."
The program's goal is to start a SFTS chapter at each participating site, with each chapter consisting of a group of students committed to change, and who will no longer stand for bullying. At the end of each event, pledge cards are given to those who agree to stand for the silent. The pledge speaks of respect and love -- hope and aspiration. Above all, it illustrates the main lesson taught through the Stand For The Silent program: I AM SOMEBODY.