An anti-bullying organization continues gaining ground with its work at area schools. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says in just over a year the Devin's Message Foundation has been attracting national help to stop student bullying.
“We never would have thought it was so bad as far as the bullying in this area,” declared Joe Smajdor, grandfather and creator of Devin's Message Foundation.
Smajdor created the anti-bullying campaign after his 15-year-old grandson Devin Kurzdorfer took his own life in the spring of 2017. The Kenmore West High School student had high-functioning autism and endured bullying.
Smajdor brought nationally known motivational speaker Brooks Gibbs to some western New York Schools earlier this year for bullying prevention. Now a national Country music singer Jessie Chris will be visiting some area schools December 17 through the 20th.
“I know one of the schools has already ask for her to perform in assembly and they will video it through the other classes and she will also be there for the lunches to talk personally with the students. That’s already in the works. We’re are just waiting for the final paperwork to go through and we should be at a number of different schools while she is hear,” Smajdor explained.
Chris was named Billboard Artist to Watch. The 21-year-old artist is part of an anti-bullying tour. She's supporting the Disney's Choose Kindness anti-bullying campaign.
“She’s from the Boston, Massachusetts area and when she was in middle schools, age 11 or 12, she was extremely bullied because she started learning how to play the guitar and was really interested in country music and, of course, a lot of the kids gave her a hard time in reference to what she was trying to do – her dream – she actually even wrote a book for middle kids and younger children and it’s an extremely great book called “Dreams”, Smajdor responded.
Smajdor tells WBFO News he is very committed to making sure other students learn to stand-up against bullying.