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Shine Bullying Prevention

Posted: 5/14/2014

Madison Cantwell knows what it’s like to be bullied. And she’s determined to prevent it from happening to anyone else. After winning the title of Miss Heart of the Ozarks International, Madison has visited schools, created a Facebook page, and gotten her community involved in Unity Day. She even created a pageant, Little Miss and Miss Belle, to benefit PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center – and raised over $1,000! The students Madison speaks to are truly touched by her efforts, her listening ear, and her story.

“I personally suffered through bullying for about 6 years or so, and it is without a doubt the most haunting experience I have ever been through. Not only did I go through this myself, I also witnessed my best friend face the same tribulation. I have been surrounded by verbal, physical, and cyber bullying for most of my school years. Even when it wasn't happening to me or a close friend, it was most definitely still present. Bullying breaks my heart, and it has left the deepest scars in me. Throughout my bullying prevention adventures, I have heard so many stories and had so many children and adults confide in me. I've had children tell me that I have given them the courage to tell their teacher about what's happening to them at school. I've had teens tell me I've given them hope even during a time that seems so dark, nearing the point of suicidal thoughts. I even had one parent come to me in tears after I spoke at an event, thanking me for speaking out because so many people in this world are afraid to do so; his son attempted suicide because of bullying last December, and he called his son over to come and talk with me a while, and it was one of the most beautiful things to be able to be a positive ray of light for someone who is struggling to that extent. After everything I've been through, I feel that is is my duty to make sure that no one else ever has to endure the same terrible things. Every life I change, every smile I bring to a victim's face, every attitude towards bullying that I change makes my broken heart and those deep scars so very worth the pain.

“I’ve spoken at several different schools in Northwest Arkansas about bullying, read bullying prevention stories (including The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin) to children at the library, spoken at various events in Northwest Arkansas, encouraged my friends and family to wear orange on Unity Day, and hosted my own fundraising pageant (Little Miss and Miss Belle 2014) to benefit PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. I hand out PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center’s bookmarks wherever I can, and I’ve started my own Facebook page, SHINE Bullying Prevention. Through these endeavors, I have raised $1,000 for PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, which I will be withdrawing from the online fundraising site soon in order to place my donation. The young woman who won my bullying prevention pageant is a victim of bullying herself, and she and I are planning events together for the near future. We just recently spoke to about 280 elementary school students and then to the 5th and 6th graders of a local school. Miss Belle was moved to tears as she talked about her experiences with bullying. The response the children had to our message absolutely blew me away. We really got through to them, and that will never stop filling me with amazement and providing me with hope for a bully-free future.”

By: Anonymous