There is one thing that is happening across the country day after day that needs to stop: bullying. Bullying so awful that makes someone want to end their own life. How did we let it get to that point? It should not be the new normal that we turn on the local or even national news and see children committing suicide because their classmates are bullying them. It needs to stop.
The definition of bullying “is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.”
It is happening way too often, but just recently a nine-year-old boy from West Virginia, Jackson Grubb, committed suicide after being bullied by a classmate. According to a local news station, the police department believes that he hung himself because he just couldn’t handle the torment anymore.
Yes, you read that right. The little boy was only nine-years-old. Little boys that age should be worrying about which toy to play with, not ending their life because of bullying. Grubb’s grandmother told the news that “they were bullying and they were picking on him. They were saying things to him. They were touching him. And that led my grandson to do the things that he did. Just speaking from my heart – I believe that he just couldn’t take nothing no more. He had reached that point, but he didn’t think, I don’t believe, that it was going to go that way.”
There have been so many incidents like this around the world, and this seriously needs to be a wake-up call.
We need to promote kindness, instead of reacting in anger. We need to show children from an early age that bullying is not okay. We have to teach them that differences should be celebrated and not be seen as weird or unnatural. We have to make them realize how their words and actions are extremely powerful, so they have to choose their moves carefully.
This change has to start with adults. We are the role models for children. We constantly have little eyes on us watching our every move. That means that we have to be very conscious about our words and our actions. If we promote kindness, kids will show kindness. If we react to things in a positive manner, kids will react to things in a positive manner. If we celebrate differences, kids will celebrate differences. If we are bullies to other adults, kids will be bullies to other kids.
I’m not saying this is always the case because there are special circumstances. Although, a majority of kids will mock their parents or any other adults that they are around because that is what they think is right and that is all that they know.
We have to stop bullying. So many children are dying, and it is seriously not okay. We have to make a change and hold ourselves accountable for what is going on. We have to make bullying stop.
I wear red because I am an Alpha Phi woman, who wears red in support of the Alpha Phi Foundation that supports women’s heart health among various other causes.
According to the Alpha Phi Foundation, “in 1965, Alpha Phi was one of the first women’s fraternities to establish a Foundation.
Demonstrating the philanthropic spirit of love and charity intended by our Founders, the Foundation was created as a trust to award grants specifically for scholarship and cardiac aid. Today, the original priorities of Alpha Phi Foundation remain.”
Every year, Alpha Phi chapters across the United States and Canada hold Red Dress Gala’s in order to raise money for the Alpha Phi Foundation.
Last year, I was a freshman at the University of Oklahoma and it was my first year as an Alpha Phi at the Phi chapter. I had the honor of joining Alpha Phi and then being a part of the committee that helped plan Alpha Phi, Phi chapter’s Red Dress Gala.
My Alpha Phi sister’s and I spent months planning this event in order to make it a special day for our members and their families, as well as making preparations for our chapter to raise money for the Alpha Phi Foundation.
Our Red Dress Gala included a dinner for our members, their families and alumnae. The freshman members were also introduced at this time. Then we had a silent auction and a live auction in order to raise money for the Alpha Phi Foundation.
Why does the Alpha Phi Foundation support women’s cardiac care?
According to the Alpha Phi Foundation, “at that time (World War II), rheumatic fever – a disease that causes serious, debilitating damage to the heart – was a leading killer of school age children in the United States. Alpha Phi wanted to help these children, but also wanted freedom to contribute money and service to other programs. Cardiac aid fit the bill – chapters and members were able to donate funds and service to various educational and research projects.
During the next few decades, modern antibiotic therapy sharply reduced mortality and causes of rheumatic fever became rare. Heart disease became the #1 killer of women in North America, and Alpha Phi Foundation thought it fitting that an organization of women help fight it.”
Before I came to college and became an Alpha Phi, I had no idea that heart disease was the No. 1 killer of women in North America. Now I am aware of that statistic, and I am happy that I can help spread awareness and raise money for something that is so near and dear to my heart.
Last year, I decided to be a participant at Soonerthon. Soonerthon is the University of Oklahoma‘s dance marathon that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital right here in Oklahoma City, OK. This event is OU’s official philanthropy. It is a 12 hour dance marathon where OU students come together to stay on their feet for 12 hours in order to symbolize various things, like the fact that many nurses are on their feet for shifts that last for 12 hours, or even longer.
Soonerthon 2016 was an incredible day. We got to celebrate and hang out with the kiddos from the hospital, dance for 12 hours straight and raise an incredible amount of money for these kids and their families who deserve our support and love.
Soonerthon raised $721,941.16 last year. I raised a little over $1,00 of that, and I was so thankful that I decided to participate in something as amazing as Soonerthon. I cannot even describe the feeling that I got when I saw that number on stage last March. It made me proud to be a part of the University of Oklahoma because I could see first hand the heart of my university. It felt so great to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. We raised that money for the kids.
This year, I have the honor of being on Soonerthon Exec. I am a Soonerthon Ambassador. Basically, my goal is to raise as much money as I can for the kids. We are starting a million dollar campaign this year, so our goal is to raise $1 million for the amazing kiddos at the Children’s Miracle Network hospital in OKC.
Why am I FTK?
I am for the kids because they deserve to have a normal childhood. They deserve to play with their friends and go to school without thinking about their next trip to the hospital that can last days, weeks and even months. They deserve to be carefree and pain free. They deserve to be kids.
I wanted to participate in this cause because of my friend Unique. From the seventh grade to my junior year of high school, I saw my sweet friend spend so much time at the hospital. I would visit her often, and even though she was spending so much time at the hospital, she never lost her positive spirit. I never once saw a big smile leave her face. She was brave. She was bold. She was Unique. After she passed away, I knew I wanted to do something in her honor. When I heard about Soonerthon, I knew I found my chance to honor her memory.
I want to first encourage you to get involved in an organization that you are passionate about. Whether you are in high school, college, or a “real” adult, it is imperative that you give back to your community. Many of us are living the “good life” right now. I’m not saying a lot of us don’t have struggles, trust me we all do. I’m saying that a majority of us probably have a high school degree, maybe a college degree, a roof over our heads, food on the table, a healthy body, a family to support us, etc. Think of all the good things you have in your life that others might not have. If you have any of the things I mentioned above, you need to give back to your community. Do something that is bigger than yourself.
Check out this recap video from Soonerthon 2016 to get inspired:
Most of us hear the word fundraising and immediately groan. A majority of people hate asking people for money because they feel annoying and do not want to make others feel uncomfortable. Fundraising is necessary whether you realize it or not. When you are a part of a nonprofit organization, sometimes fundraising is how that organization functions.
According to the Dictionary, fundraising as a noun means “the act or process of raising funds, as for nonprofit organizations or for a political cause.”
Here are some tips and tricks for fundraising for your favorite cause or organization.
1. Ask your family and friends.
Your family and friends are your best resource. They love to support you in all of your endeavors, but you have to actually ask them. Do not just assume they will donate without asking. It also shows a lot of professionalism that you ask them personally.
2. Post on your social media accounts.
Social media is an incredible tool for fundraising. Post your link to donate on your various social media platforms on a weekly basis. Facebook and Twitter are incredible tools for sharing your link to donate. Tag your friends and family so that their friends will also see that you are fundraising.
3. Write handwritten letters.
Social media is an incredible tool, but never underestimate the power of a handwritten letter. Handwritten letters show sincerity and authenticity. Look through your parents and grandparents old address books and start sending out letters.
4. Do not be afraid of a “no.”
When you start to fundraise, ask everyone. The worst that someone can say is “no.” You will never know if someone is willing to donate if you do not ask, so do not be afraid of a “no.”
5. Offer a product or service.
Sometimes when you fundraise, you have to get your hands a little dirty. Use your skills in order to get donations. Offer to babysit or mow the lawn for extra money to put towards your fundraising. Make something unique and sell it online. The various things you can create or do are endless.
6. Show that you care about the cause or organization.
If you care about your cause or organization, then others will care about your cause or organization. Let potential donors see your heart and how much your cause or organization means to you. If they see your heart, they will want to donate.
7. Let the donors know where their money is going.
Donors like to know where their money is going. Give your potential donors a variety of resources to let them know where their money is going. Direct them to the cause or organizations website, give statistics and show them pictures if you can. The more they know about your cause or organization, the more they are willing to donate.
8. Don’t be afraid to reach out to acquaintances.
Reach out to all of your resources. It does not matter if you are just casual Facebook friends or a teacher from high school. Use your connections. Like I said before, the worst they can say is “no,” so why not ask?
9. Set goals.
It is extremely important to set fundraising goals. Set your main end goal, but also make weekly or monthly goals to make sure that you are staying on track with your fundraising.
10. Always say thank you.
Be respectful to everyone you talk to whether they donate to you or not. Say thank you to every single person you reach out to. I recommend a handwritten thank you letter because that will make you stand out to your connections. If they say no, but you are very respectful they might consider donating in the future.
11. Never give up.
If this cause or organization is important to you, you cannot give up. Fundraising is hard I am not going to lie to you, but if you work hard and do not give up then you will reach your goals.
It’s 2016, but for some reason we are still in the stone ages when it comes to spreading awareness about the realities of sexual assault. We see it every day on the news and even on campus. Young women across the country are being sexually assaulted, yet we haven’t made a change. It’s literally right in front of our faces, what more of a wakeup call do we need?
According to RAINN, “every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Meanwhile only 6 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.”
They also stated that “1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. 9 of every 10 victims of rape are female.”
When it comes to college campuses, “women ages 18-24 are at an elevated risk of sexual violence. Sexual violence is more prevalent at college, compared to other crimes. Only 20 percent of female student victims age 18-24, report to law enforcement. Only 32 percent of non-student females the same age do make a report.”
I know that is a lot of statistics, but I think it’s important to educate yourself on what is going on. The numbers are right in front of your face. It’s obvious that we need to make a change.
Young women should not have to be afraid of getting raped. I know it happens to men as well, but sadly women are at more of a risk according to statistics. We shouldn’t have to be scared to walk from the library back to our rooms because we might get raped. We shouldn’t have to be scared to go out to our cars at night. We shouldn’t have to worry about being sexual assaulted literally at any time or place.
A majority of higher institutions and government have let women across America down. We see people like Brock Turner and famous athletes get out with little to no consequences while the women who were sexually assaulted have to live with the trauma for the rest of their lives. How is this okay? It’s not.
It hits a little closer to home when I see research about sexual assault victims come straight from my university. The University of Oklahoma Psychology Clinic conducted research on sexual assault that was published in April of 2016.
The OU Daily, recently published an article discussing the research. It said that “out of 823 students surveyed 152 said they had been sexually assaulted at OU.”
That is just at OU. That number horrifies me. People come to college to get an education, not to be fearful or even experience first hand sexual assault. That number is already 19 percent, but just think of how much higher it would be if they didn’t ask about sexual assault specifically at OU?
OU President David Boren is quoted in the article saying that “[He has] always felt that the problem (sexual assault) is very significant. That’s one of the reasons why [He] wanted to make sure that we had a very strong Title IX program and why [He wants] a hotline – because [He is] not surprised. [He knows] we’ve got a problem and that colleges all across the country have a problem, but it’s an understandable problem.”
Please tell me how this is “an understandable problem?” How is sexual assault ever understandable? Let me answer that for you – it’s not. We can’t let sexual assault be the new normal. It’s not okay.
The article also said that “in January 2015, the Title IX office distanced itself from the survey – (Lisa) Frey said the office withdrew its support from the research, but Assistant Title IX Director Kathleen Smith said the office asked to delay the survey. The researchers are concerned that their report was met with relative silence.”
Sexual assault is a prevalent issue on college campuses. We have to pay attention. Universities have to pay attention. The country as a whole has to pay attention.
A relatively new slogan on OU’s campus is “Not on OUr campus.” It’s goal is to suggest that at the University of Oklahoma we don’t allow things like sexual assault, yet that is not how everyone interprets it.
The article quotes Scott Secor, a third year doctoral student in counseling psychology. He said that “[He thinks] for a lot of people who have survived this (sexual assault) , it actually constitutes a denial that (sexual assault) is happening on our campus.”
We can’t deny that sexual assault is happening on our campus, and thousands of other campuses across America. The facts are right in front of our face. It is happening, but many of those who have experienced sexual assault are too afraid to come forward for various reasons. A lot of people feel like nobody will believe them, so they try to deal with the pain on their own. We have to make sure that we open the conversation about sexual assault, so more people will feel safe coming forward.
Finally, the article quotes Boren again. He said that “we try to really train students about (sexual violence), and you try to also say, ‘Don’t get yourself in a situation where you’re incapable of saying no.’ Can we eradicate the problem? Not any more than we can eradicate human nature.”
“Don’t get yourself in a situation where you’re incapable of saying no?” How about we teach boys about consent. How about we teach boys to be gentlemen and not force themselves onto women – drunk or sober. We can’t blame the victims. It doesn’t matter if they are drunk or sober – no woman deserves that.
Boren did release a statement regrading this OU Daily article via Twitter (@President_Boren). He said “I realize that we live in a world in which people try to interpret what other’s are attempting to say. Let me make it 100 percent clear, I emphatically believe that it is wrong to ever put the blame on a victim of sexual assault or misconduct. It is a core value of all of the many programs on our campus put in place to combat sexual misconduct, to never put blame on the victim. It is also a violation of my personal values and beliefs. We have stretched resources at OU to support programs aimed at minimizing sexual misconduct. I could not more strongly support these efforts in minimizing sexual assault and misconduct on our campus.”
It was a smart public relations move for Boren to release a statement following the OU Daily article, but OU students want action and not just words. Yes, there are sexual assault programs in place, but obviously we need some stronger actions. We have to eliminate this new “norm.”
Things like this are happening all over the world, not just at OU. You see the facts. You see what is going on across America. We have to make a change. We as in those who have experienced sexual assault. We as in women who don’t want to be scared to be alone on a daily basis. We as in men that realize sexual assault in not okay. We as in people of the world that want a change.
Volunteer work is incredibly important. The work of volunteers is vital to make the world a better place. According to the Dictionary, a volunteer is “a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking.”
There are so many different ways that we can use our individual talents to give back to our community. Whatever talent or passion you have, there is a volunteer position where you can use it. Everything from artistic ability, mental ability and physical ability can help in some way. You might as well put your skills to good use and volunteer wherever you can.
There are thousands of incredible places to volunteer your time and service. Whenever I get the chance, I love to volunteer with kids. It is incredibly fun, and there is never a dull moment. It is such a rewarding experience. Volunteering with kids will change your life.
When you have encounters with kids, many people believe that it will purely be a time of acting as a babysitter and maybe teaching them a few things along the way. You might go in with that attitude, but I promise that you will learn more being around kids than in any other situation.
The moment I was in the sixth grade, I started volunteering my time as a small group leader at my church. I thought it was just going to be me watching the kiddos and teaching them a little bit about Jesus. I wasn’t expecting anything more.
Over the years I continued to be a small group leader at my church. I hung out with the kids every Sunday morning. Then I started doing extra things like volunteering at the summer church camps with my group of kids and volunteering at our annual event TC Toys. No matter what I did, I was always doing something where I was interacting with kids. I did this until my senior year of high school.
Now I’m a sophomore in college, and I can promise you that I grew so much as a person being around those kids. I would not be the person I am today if I had not spent so much time around a variety of children. Back when I started volunteering, I was only twelve years old and going through the phase where I thought I knew everything, but wow was I wrong.
I was supposed to be a teacher to these kids, but they taught me more than I ever imagined. I started to look at life through the perspective of children, and it really opened my eyes. Kids don’t worry about what other people think. Kids don’t judge others for their appearance or the things that they like. Kids see the good in others. Kids are constantly curious about everything they see. Kids are fearless.
Volunteering with those kids made me grow as a person. It seriously changed my life. It made me more confident. It made me realize that everyone has a story. It made me realize that being unique is cool. It made me realize that there is so much to discover in the world. It made me realize that I needed to take more risks.
If you have never spent time with kids, I challenge you to go find a place where you can volunteer with children. It can be pretty hectic, but I promise that you will learn so much and grow as a person.