With an introduction by Neil Hooper
It’s all too easy to allow ourselves to become calloused to the pains of the world (and our own) as defense against a seeming tidal wave of disturbing news about crisis in our environment, politics and culture, both in our own communities and around the globe.
We do have a choice, however, and an obligation – perhaps – to push back against that impulse. For as many sensational headlines that tempt us to lose heart, there are stories of courageous, compassionate and committed people working every day to do what they can to improve the quality of life for themselves, their families and their community.
One of those stories belongs to a young person named Raziel Sink.
“Raz is such a remarkable young lady that embodies friendship and love in all she does. Raz has and continues to go above and beyond to raise awareness for bullying. She has been campaigning and spreading the word about the importance of kindness to one another all throughout our school environment. Her campaign has truly shaped and changed the mindset of our students. Our students practice what she moralizes and it shows tremendously.”
Dana Fornabio, Assistant Principal, Southwest Preparatory School
My name is Raziel Sink. I am 11 years old, and I am determined to make this world a better place.
In fourth grade I was the victim of bullying. It was awful. My stuff was destroyed or stolen. I was cussed out and called names. Every day I went to school, I knew something bad was going to happen.The kids I thought were my friends stood back and laughed along with everyone else when my clothes would be covered in paint, or I couldn’t find my stolen supplies.
I loved school before that but had ended up hating it. I cried every morning before school. Finally, I’d had enough. I moved schools. But I didn’t let it bring me down for long, instead I decided to do something about it! I loved my new school. The campus was very supportive, and I felt that this was the place to launch my campaign.
During my fifth grade year, I created and ran an entire month long bullying prevention campaign at my elementary campus. This included me going into every classroom, grades K-5 to teach weekly character education classes; starting a Kindness Givers club; having themed events to raise awareness of bullying; and ending with an assembly where I gave a speech about my experience and showed video messages that celebrities had made for me about bully prevention. I wanted to teach other kids to be upstanders and not bystanders so that no one else hopefully would have to go through what I went through.
Doing this campaign has made it easier to be around my classmates. First of all, they all know that I will be kind no matter what comes my way. They also know that I am a safe place to come to if they are being bullied by others.These improvements made me feel like I should keep going with my campaign. The following year I was on the middle and high school campus and was determined to make my campaign bigger and better. That year I brought my campaign to my new campus, continued it at my old one, and spoke at a couple of other locations.
I fundraised to build a bully prevention toolkit which has books, posters, bracelets, etc. to utilize during bully prevention month. I continued character education classes for elementary students, writing my own lesson plans, and sharing them with teachers at schools I could not visit to teach at myself. I had a book/essay contest for middle and high school students that challenged them to look at how they thought about bullying.
To wrap up my month, I gave my speeches 9 times in one day, at different campuses. At the end of that day I felt exhausted, but I felt like I had made a difference in those schools. I have been working hard this year to spread my message to more schools. I have designed t-shirts to fundraise to provide books and materials to schools that I visit.
I created a website, www.bullyingstopstoday.net to help others connect with me and to give tips to those being bullied or witnessing bullying. I have been on the local news and also done a Facebook Live with our local weatherman to get the word out. I have had meetings with other businesses to get them involved.
Technology has empowered me to spread my message further through the creation of my website, online tshirt sales, and my Facebook Live session. While some people use technology to spread rumors, I use technology to spread kindness. I want to go to many more schools so that I can spread my message even further.
If you are being bullied, remember that you are not alone. Tell the bully to stop. If they do not stop, make sure you immediately tell an adult that you trust what is going on. If you can, get a friend that has witnessed some of the bullying to come back you up. You don’t have to deal with this on your own.
Remember to spread kindness. A little can go a long way.
As kids get settled into the new school year, we know that some of them are carrying around more than books — too many are also carrying the anxiety and depression that comes with being the target of bullies. Our deepest thanks to Raziel Sink for sharing her story with us and for her work to confront the bullying epidemic.
We commend Raz, and thank her and others like her who are standing up to bullying and making a difference in the lives of others as well as their own.