XENIA — Having been bullied before, Jordyn Thomas always jumps in when she sees fellow students being harassed.
“When I notice people being bullied, I stand up for them,” the Xenia High School junior said. “I’ve been to the principal’s office many times to help come up with something anti-bullying to help spread positivity around the school. I feel like I’m strong enough to overcome it but I want to help people who don’t feel as strong on their own.”
Thomas is taking her anti-bullying efforts to a new level. She is teaming up with Southeastern High School junior Mozie VanRaaij to help host an event at the Coffee Hub 7:30-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2.
Officially called Coffee Hub Open-Mic, it’s hosted by Be Kind, a movement started by VanRaaij last spring when she noticed bullying going on in her school in South Charleston.
“I walked into the school locker room,” VanRaaij said. “They have a chalkboard … some girls wrote very nasty vulgar and derogatory comments on it about my friends.”
VanRaaij took a photo of the board, then erased it and wrote the words “Be Kind.” She sent the photos to her mother, who in turn posted them on social media and it went viral in the small Clark County community. With the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting coming up, VanRaaij decided to change the mood of the day and passed out T-shirts with “Be Kind” on them to students. VanRaaij used her savings to have the shirts made and now sells them with profits going to a scholarship and community fund.
“I was really bullied my freshman year in high school,” VanRaaij said. “It got so bad that there were threats and we had to get the police involved numerous times. I just didn’t want to see anybody else go through what I went through. I remember what it was like to have my name on the board.”
VanRaaij and Thomas recently met and hit it off immediately.
“Our mindset,” Thomas said. “A lot of kinds just don’t think about other people as much. We really think about how other people feel.”
That’s why Thomas became involved as a Xenia ambassador for Be Kind.
“Bullying is such a big deal everywhere,” she said. “We hope that we can spread the Be Kind message to everyone and make it bigger than what it is right now. We started passing our flyers recently at a church to bring people in.”
Thomas said her mother, Melanie, who owns Gypsy Alley Boutique in Xenia is going to put together an order form so local people can purchase the Be Kind shirts.
“The end result is mainly to provide help and get others to do the right thing,” VanRaaij said. “And that bullying just needs to stop.”
VanRaaij has taken her message to several Clark County schools and has set up booths at various festivals. The movement has spread into Yellow Springs and now Xenia, thanks to Thomas.
“It came as such a big surprise,” VanRaaij said. “I didn’t expect any of that to happen. It makes me extremely happy. I can see what it can go. I want this to get as big as possible so I can have more of an outreach and help kids.”
And Thomas is more than happy to be along for the ride.
“After speaking at the Coffee Hub, it’s going to bring a lot of people to notice it,” she said. “To spread the word and be kind.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.