Young Buffalo students hear anti-bullying message
Some young students at the Lorraine Elementary School in South Buffalo received a lesson in anti-bullying. As part of our Focus on Education reporting, WBFO'S Eileen Buckley tells us the mother of Jamie Rodemeyer offered an anti-bullying message to the school students.
Tracy Rodemeyer of Williamsville has turned her family's tragedy into a major learning tool for other children. Her 14-year-old son Jamie committee suicide in 2011. The family said the Williamsville North High School freshman was the victim of bullying for years because he struggled with his sexuality.
"It's been two-and-a-half years since Jamie has been gone and I will say it's getting a little easier, but each time we do an event, we come out, and I see all this all these kids, I just look into their eyes, it kind of brings me back right back to day one when Jamie left," said Rodemyer.
Rodemeyer and her husband have been appearing the last couple of years -- speaking out against bullying and the message is helping to prevent other victims from taking their lives.
"On a daily basis we get some kind of email, a text -- something that tells us that his message is still out there. People coming to us saying oh my God I was ready to kill myself or I didn't know where to turn to and your son has saved me," noted Rodemeyer.
Rodemeyer tells WBFO News she recently received a response from as far away as Argentina, where a young man from the LGTB community was not initially accepted by his family. But he told the Rodemeyer’s because of Jamie story, he was able to rise above the rejection and change their minds.
Lorraine Pre-K-through third grade students responded "starts with me" to first grade teacher Kelly Gazior as she shouted out "bully free," during a recent anti-bulling assembly where Rodemeyer explained her story to young students. Gazior also serves as the school's 'Bully Go to Person'.
"The idea is to change the face of the community, change the culture of the school," said Gazior.
The school is working to change the culture at the school and they work to reach the youngest of students.
"Sometimes they get mixed up. They don't if it's bullying or if its just a kid saying something not so nice. We teach them the difference," said Gazior. "We also teach them how to stand up to bullies and we teach them what to do if they feel like they are being bullied."
Lorraine students are participating in an anti-bully contest. The school is also hosting the 2nd annual Bully Free 5-K Race on Friday, May 30th. Last year the race raised $4,000. It has allowed the school to create a program called 'Box out Bullying' providing professional development for teachers, parent workshop and assemblies to help teach children to "stand up to bullying."