World AIDS Day, December 1st, was established in 1988 to fight against, show support, and commemorate people who have died of HIV. The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year in spreading awareness and supporting the prevention of HIV. The Foundation seeks to continue to break the transmission cycle as well as raise money to provide care for those affected. Significant progress has been made in the prevention of AIDS however still today, 37 million people worldwide live with HIV, and HIV/AIDs continues to be the second leading cause of death for teens across the world.  Also, AIDs-related deaths in young people ages 10-19 have tripled since 2000.  Elizabeth Taylor provides an excellent example of what it means to make an impact and be a mentor, as she continues to do so through her foundation and her dedication to raising funds to prevent this pandemic from growing in 2016. If you have time, check out her amazing mentoring story here. Also, we recommend reading Firooz Zahedi’s book, My Elizabeth.

Photo Credits to Firooz Zahedi

#WorldAIDSDay #ElizabethTaylor #AIDS #ETAF #PattiAustin #DawnCarroll #Firoozzahedi #BookSoup

Thinking About Prince

Is this what it sounds like when doves cry? A true artist who changed the face of music: brilliant story teller…wild chance taker -refused to worrying about what “others” thought- His music was great because he did as he pleased… did not compromise to “fit-in” he became iconic because he was genius and adored for his charming frenzy & simple shyness – he broke down barriers- his infectious tunes blew up the charts … this was all after several unsuccessful attempts. The same ears that suddenly loved him, earlier in his career had rejected him. BUT… He never gave up on his dream- he had a story to tell and he was going to make sure we listened – Isn’t that a great mentoring legacy? Isn’t that life well lived. Thank you Prince for all your royal greatness… Nothing compares to you

Music has always been my treasure trove of inspiration. Everything I do has a lyrical, musical influence. Once in a great while a magnificent artist emerges who is the perfect trifecta: a brilliant performer, a true-to-life writer, and a talented songwriter. These brilliant creative talents mesmerize us because they have the courage to go where none of us dare. They bear all, give all. These pioneers mentor us with powerful messages that hit like a freight train, and we benefit so much from their hard-hitting, uninhibited, adventurous art.

This first time I heard Chris Whitley I was driving down Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. It was late at night in the Spring of 1992. I put his CD, Living with the Law, into the player and immediately I had to pull over. The songs were intoxicating. Each note and word seemed to buzz within me, a force tearing at the fabric of my emotional being.

The songs were profound, and crafted with incredible vision. Chris was no less than a conduit to the emotions of the planet—or at least to my own. Would it be crazy to accuse him of espionage? It felt as if he had raided my heart and soul, and put all of its secrets into one of his songs. To say he channeled my feelings would be arrogant and inaccurate: Chris was too authentic to steal a diary and make its clandestine words his own. His music felt like finding a long-lost friend. It made me want to smile, cry, and fall in love, simultaneously. The melodies and lyrics were alternately overwhelming, comforting, painful, and genuinely satisfying. That night, I was going to see him live in concert.

My friend Mike and I had cut out of work early to make the show—so we had both missed the broadcasts announcing the verdict in the Rodney King trial. That night, Los Angeles burned down around us in a violent frenzy. But, fools that we were, nothing could prevent us from seeing Chris’ concert. Not even the mayhem of a dangerous riot. There we were in the middle of one of the most explosive nights in U.S. history, singing along with Chris on stage, singing at the top of our lungs.

Hallelujah.

Even with terrible danger all around us, there was no better place to be, and so we continued to belt it out:

“When this is over, over and through / And all the changes have come and past
I want to meet you in the Big Sky Country / Just want to prove mama, love can last
I want to meet you in the Big Sky Country / Be kissing time, be kissing time goodbye / Just gonna prove it while the whole world collides.”

Throughout the years, each of Chris’s works offered a different satisfaction. Each new CD studies and interprets the human person, sharing in the blessings—and the hard lessons—of life. Chris never failed to capture the essence of life, how a life is really lived, and how it could deteriorate. Chris was a gifted storyteller who could say so much with so few, carefully chosen, words. Those words drenched in mentoring messages.

On November 20, 2005, Chris took his final breath. On his tenth anniversary I felt compelled to finish this piece, which I began writing 10 years ago in his memory. His ability to break down barriers and highlight our common bonds is what made him a sublime mentor. The world really could use Chris right now.

The last time I saw Chris Whitley was at Club Passim, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. There was no finality in that experience though. I own every CD he ever made. Pandora has a Chris Whitley Station. I just learned about the documentary “Dust Radio,” which I hope captures his high-voltage talent and primitive power. And I just discovered Trixie Whitley, his amazingly talented daughter.

The legacy of Chris Whitely is preserved, in his music and his memory, in his family, and in a new generation of songwriters who seem poised to fall under the spell of this daring, timeless artist.

[box]We are lucky to have a teacher on our writing team and excited for her students, because Sarah Gross is NOT afraid to tackle difficult issues.

She has written about the sensitive topics of racism and bullying before, addressing Lady Gaga and the anti-bullying crusades of 2012 and how Lenny Kravitz addresses race issues. So when Sarah’s students brought up the controversial performance of Sebastien de la Cruz during Game 4 of the NBA playoffs in June she jumped at the teaching moment and mentored.

Today, Sarah urges us to DISCUSS these issues and learn from what is wrong and what is right. She tackles this story to mentor us as only she can, to inspire and nurture a more tolerant state of mind.

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Founder + Executive Director[/box]

The National Anthem

A young Mexican-American boy, lionized for his skills as a vocalist on the popular TV competition show, America’s Got Talent, sang the National Anthem at the NBA finals. The audience waited with baited breath for the singing spectacular to grace the stage, expecting to see an image to feed their patriotism; a voice to fill their hearts with the familiar sounds of the American Dream.

When Sebastien de la Cruz walked proudly up to the microphone, he accomplished just that, offering a heartfelt rendition of the song that symbolizes “Americanism” and all that bearing the badge of “American citizen” stands for.

The Public’s Reaction

Many cheered at the performance, touched by the young boy’s voice, but those cheers quickly became marred when negative publicity targeted Sebastian, and the focus of his performance turned from his beautiful voice to his nationality. Specifically, Sebastian’s appearance became the focus—not his voice, not his personality—no, his physical appearance rapidly became the target as individuals who watched the performance made judgments that have plagued our country for generations. These individuals generated comments which spread like wildfire across the internet, shallow and prejudiced.

What was the cause of these comments? Sebastien de la Cruz, gifted vocalist or not, did not meet the expectations of a select audience primed for a quintessential American to stand and deliver the National Anthem. Sebastien de la Cruz, dressed in the garb reminiscent of a Spanish mariachi—to embrace his personal culture—became, to some, a Mexican, not an American. Comments, like the one below, soon found their way across the internet:

 

Assumption-Based Negativity After the Performance

The negative attitude shown through this comment highlights the assumptions that some viewers of the NBA game made. However, the comments may stem more from the time and place in which Sebastian embraced his culture, rather than the gesture itself. While the young boy delivered a good song, it may not have been the proper platform for a traditional costume, simply because it took the focus off the game. This could be the case with any costume from any culture. To displace the focus during a sports event may be considered disrespectful to many diehard sports fans, especially as the sports arena is placed on a high pedestal in America. Nevertheless, this instance highlights the attitudes that persist, and the need to respectfully address them.

Schooling, and education, starting with our nation’s youths, is a route to truly combating these attitudes. Teaching young people life values and character traits such as respect and tolerance, and tackling tough issues at home and inside of the classrooms, is at least a starting point.

A Teacher’s Perspective on Bullying

As a teacher, my value system includes instructing students through a curriculum embedded in life skills, and using key texts to supply students with the tools to help them lead a successful life. Yes, we can use a novel like To Kill a Mockingbird to teach English Language Arts-specific skills. But, in doing so, we miss the opportunity to teach the richness of the text. By avoiding the tough issues (racism, empathy, prejudice), we fall short of fully preparing youths to go out and be successful in the world.

If we truly want to combat stereotyping and prejudice, then we should not be afraid to confront and discuss these issues at school and at home. Keeping them hidden accomplishes nothing, and as seen through the public’s reaction to Sebastian de la Cruz, only feeds the negative attitudes that have plagued our country’s history.

A Classroom Discussion of the Word “Immigrant”

Sebastien de la Cruz’s experience touches a cord with me specifically because I am confronting these issues in my classroom as I teach my students the autobiographical novel Breaking Through by Mexican author Francisco Jiménez. My classroom is diverse, and my students identified with the novel immediately. During a discussion of the word “immigrant,” my students voiced the words that were surely in the minds of those who gave negative feedback of Sebastian’s performance: “illegal,” “green card,” among others.

There is a degree of hostility in the students’ voices as they are clearly aware of the stereotypes that exist against the main character (and author) Francisco, and by extension, the stereotypes which may exist against them. The novel brings up sensitive issues; do we shy away from them, brush them under the rug, or is it our duty to face them, as they are?

What Benefit Comes From Shielding Young People from These Realities?

The question to ask here is what benefit there is in shielding young people from these realities. Conversations with youths will show a startling awareness of these issues, and we are doing a disservice to students if we think it is in their best interest to hide, or to sugarcoat. Youths are intelligent, and we can challenge them and better prepare them to think critically about the world if we can start to talk with them about these issues and give them the space to form and refine their own ideas.

Teaching Tolerance and Respect

Teaching tolerance and respect can only happen if we start with the nation’s youths. Perhaps then, we will see less and less of the comments directed at Sebastian; perhaps then, we will see a young boy singing the National Anthem and we will celebrate him for who he is on the inside. The color of his skin, his clothes, his accent—those things will be a part of who he is, but those things will comprise his individuality, and we can begin to embrace the idea of a diverse American citizenry.

This hope for the future, I think, is beautifully expressed through the words of Mr. Jiménez, who is a wonderful mentor for us all:

“For me, the beauty of that ideal, of that American dream, is when you see all different immigrant groups that make up our society, from all different parts of the world, coming together, living together, working together, helping each other.

If our country has the potential and the hope of showing the rest of the world that different peoples from different cultures, speaking different languages, with different customs, can live together in harmony and in peace and learn from each other, then we have a lot to offer to the rest of the world.”

Using Difficult Experiences to Design the Next Generation

I write today about my classroom’s discussion of Sebastien de la Cruz because racism and bullying are learned behaviors that must be STOPPPED. We need to use every opportunity we have to build a more tolerant, compassionate world. We need people like a reformed racist Arno Michaelis fostering a better world by speaking of his own experiences with hate and the miracle of one woman changing his mind with her kindness.

By tackling the difficult issue of racism with my students, I hope that they would be inspired tocreatethis better world filled with tolerance and compassion. By writing about this difficult issue with Over My Shoulder Foundation, I hope that you will be inspired to mentor a more tolerant generation.

After all, we are designing the next generation…

[box]If you like Over My Shoulder Foundation, please SHARE your mentoring stories, consider donating to our non-profit and don’t forget to follow Over My Shoulder Foundation on Facebook too.[/box]

 

[box] Today I just found out that Stevie Wonder (one of my mentors from afar) and Arsenio Hall will be there when our Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder, Patti Austin, is inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame on June 22, 2013. I wanted to share some thoughts about mentors we haven’t met in person, and the ways that Stevie Wonder mentored me, from afar…

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director[/box]

Mentors from Afar

Mentors come in all shapes,  styles and walks of life – some you meet and some you don’t.  The ones you never meet but influence you in a profound way are people you admire…I still call them mentors because they affect you.

Great speakers can stimulate great ideas while you listen. Great artists become the soundtracks of your life because their music takes you over and alters your thinking or perhaps changes your moves.

Today Our Mentor from Afar is Stevie Wonder!

Stevie Wonder has been sharing his mentoring messages through song all around the world since the 1960’s. He has been a star since he was a child and many of his songs have mentored the cultivation of calm, peace, unity and respect.

Stevie Wonder has never backed away from tackling difficult social issues. He has never withdrawn from his role in the front line as his music eliminates barriers. Every new song story is a mentoring message of  diversity, culture and individuality.

A great example of Stevie Wonder’s musical mentoring message is the song Ebony and Ivory. Ebony and Ivory is an anti-racism anthem. We’ve found a clip from when Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney perform this hit song at the White House!

Artists like Stevie  dare to say the things we wish we could say. They explain feelings that we might not fully understand. They touch our hearts and souls with their gifts unlike anything else in the world, baring their inner secrets, exposing their life lessons so we might learn from their mistakes.

Getting Excited About the Hollywood Bowl

As we prepare for the most unbelievable night this June 22 when our co-founder Patti Austin is inducted into the Hollywood Bowl of Fame along with those rockers from Aerosmith Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and artist John Legend I will thank all those artists (many I never met) who influenced and mentored me. As I hear our lead song Over My Shoulder performed at the Hollywood Bowl I will realize some of my own dreams coming true and I will silently thank all those mentors that have come before me, and all those who will come after me.

When I see Patti on stage I will be wildly proud…Not just of her and our Over My Shoulder song, but to all of you who have helped keep the Over My Shoulder Foundation flourishing…This moment is for you too!

So with that… here is another Stevie Wonder song for you. I believe this song can mentor more love into our world.

“I Just Called to Say I Love You” by Stevie Wonder

 

“Do it over. Do it differently. Do it until it can’t be done any better.”

-Stevie Wonder

 [box]If you like Over My Shoulder Foundation, please SHARE your mentoring stories, consider donating to our non-profit and don’t forget to follow Over My Shoulder Foundation on Facebook too.[/box]

 

[box]Today’s mentoring story is brought to you by one of the best thinkers in the world’s educational scene, Professor Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow. Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow is a Pushcart Prize Nominated author and award-winning educator and broadcaster. She is Founding General Manager of WYCC-TV/PBS and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Wright College in Chicago.

Elynne’s performances of her stories have been broadcast on The Bob Edwards Show on NPR and Rick Kogan’s Sunday Papers on WGN radio. Elynne has performed in NYC at the Museum of Motherhood and throughout Chicago including the Printer’s Row Lit Fest. Her work has been part of the production “Dear Mother” in L.A. at The Lyric Theater. Her adult storyteller program IN HER OWN VOICE is renowned. Her memoirs, stories and essays have been published in numerous anthologies including Thin Threads (Kiwi Publishing), Chicken Soup for the Soul (Simon & Schuster Distributor), This I Believe: On Love (Wiley Publishing), Forever Travels (Mandinam Press), Press Pause Moments (Clarion Award) (Kiwi Publishing), My Dad Is My Hero (Adams Media) and various magazines including the international Jerusalem Post.

The Mentorology cycle is made SO evident by Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow, an expert in human connection.

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director[/box]

 

I believe mentoring to be the hope of the human condition. This is my story.

Switching Careers to Start Work One-On-One

In January 1994, I left the role of founding General Manager of WYCC-TV, a PBS affiliate in Chicago, and joined the faculty of Wright College as Assistant Professor of Communication. I was 49 years old and changing careers. As always I had my husband’s invaluable support.

Finding a New Professional Home

The Chairperson of the Speech Department of which I was now a member gave me the choice of two offices from which to choose. The end office was smaller than the others. It had a slanted wall that reminded me of Emily Dickinson’s attic in which she would write and create her works. That thought sold me on Office L331 which became my professional home.

Setting Up Shop

The first thing I did was to hang my television and community service plaques and awards. Next I positioned the picture of my staff at the station that had been given to me as a gift. I put my teaching supplies in my desk drawer. School supplies! Whether as a student or a teacher they thrilled me. They were my earliest memories of school, of the beginning of each semester, of newness and anticipation. They were treasures.

One of my colleagues stopped by to welcome me. “I see you have already nested,” she said smiling.

I looked at the remaining spaces on the walls of my new office. I was returning to the classroom after being away for many years. Did I still have the ability to connect with students the way I had always done? Could I still create the magic I had experienced in the classroom? Would I ever receive anything from my future students or from my academic work that I could proudly hang in those spaces?

I Have Arrived

January 2007. I am a Full Professor. I have been named the 2007 Distinguished Service Professor of Wright College. My office walls are filled with academic awards and honors, certificates of acknowledgement and gifts from my students.

The memories that I cherish most in this Emily Dickinson like attic room are those that cannot be seen. The faces of the students who have visited me, the stories that students have shared with me, the work students have shown me. In my 13 years at Wright, I have taught and mentored students. I have a deep respect for the community college student who does it all at once. School, work, family… all at the same time.

The Stories of My Students

Some of the stories I have heard in this office are unforgettable. The young man with MS who struggled to overcome his fear of performance and his inability to speak clearly due to his illness. The English as a Second Language students who came to a new country, a new city and struggled to do Public Speaking in English, a foreign language to them. The single mothers and fathers who were trying desperately to arrange for affordable child care so that they could attend class. The endless stories of grandmothers who died each time an assignment was due or an exam missed. The student who looked and sounded exactly like Travolta’s character Tony in “Saturday Night Fever” and who told me that he was in college on a bet. The female students who were in doomed marriages and who were seeking another way to live their lives and to support themselves. The Muslim student who was afraid for her own personal safety after September 11th. The Caucasian male who could not understand why the family of his Hispanic girlfriend would not accept him. The student who cut herself whenever she faced pressure. Student after student afraid to speak before an audience. Students who were lonely. Students who ended relationships. Students who came back to tell me that they had completed Medical School, Law School, Graduate School. Students who got the job they wanted, the promotion they hoped for, the first apartment of their own.

I sit in my office, in the privacy of this cherished space remembering. I remember their voices, their smiles, their tears. They have been not only my work but also my family. To them I am devoted. My walls tell the story of my career. My heart holds the meaning of my career. The family of students whom I have taught will always belong to me and I to them.

Elynne’s student Will, whom she wrote about in “The Hat”.

From Student to Mentee, a Mentorology Cycle

It has meant so much to sustain friendships with several of my students. Mentoring is a lifelong process. As a New Year’s gift, I decided to e-mail each of them a copy of my essay “Life 101” published in the anthology Forever Friends (Amazon.com). Many readers and audiences have experienced this essay, but the ones who will be touched most deeply are the students whom I have taught. They are my garden. Although I am no longer in the classroom, I have the unique opportunity to see their growth and fruition and to continue my hope of inspiring their lives and dreams.

My Student’s Words of Appreciation, A Gift as Good as Gold

Some of the responses I received from my students…

Hello Professor,
Thank you for sharing your wisdom. This is one of the finest gifts anyone has given me. I really appreciate and love you for giving hope in life. ~N

Dear Professor Chaplik-Aleskow, That was quite the gift indeed! I will apply these words to my own journeys in life as my creativity awakens again! And to let you know, I am well into 3 new writing projects already! I thank you for helping me find a reason to believe in myself again! I hope the New Year has been wonderful for you thus far! For the first time in a long time, it surely has been for me! Your student and friend, ~W

Dearest Elynne, my friend, Thank you for the reminder on how to live life. You taught me these same lessons as my Speech teacher at Wright and they, as well as your friendship, are part of who I am today. Is the anthology out already? I would love to buy the book and pass this lesson on to my students. ~C

My Garden of Students

While some people cherish their roses and tulips, I have a prize-winning garden of students. Each is unique and beautiful. I have been given the gift of mentoring them and of experiencing their potential and humanity. I believe mentoring to be the hope of the human condition.

If you liked this story, you can follow the author’s continuing work at Professor Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow’s website.

[box]If you like Over My Shoulder Foundation, please SHARE your mentoring stories, consider donating to our non-profit and don’t forget to follow Over My Shoulder Foundation on Facebook too.[/box]

 

Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) Founders Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll will be recognized this year for their service in the design community at the New England ASID 2013 Excellence in Design Award gala at the end of March.

patti-austin-dawn-carroll-of-OMSF Boston, MA, USA – March 4th, 2013

This coming March 21, 2013, Patti Austin (a Grammy Award-winning singer / songwriter and Design Mentee) and Dawn Carroll (an Award-winning stone designer at Cumar, Inc.) will take center-stage for their achievements in bringing mentoring to the forefront of thought in the New England design industry. The event will take place at the Mandarin Oriental, Back Bay, Boston, MA.

The ASID New England Chapter 2013 GALA “Celebrating Excellence in Design” celebrates interior designers, educators and industry professionals who are outstanding leaders and innovators in the design community. As such, with the fact that OMSF has launch major events such as “Designing the Next Generation”, it was only a matter of time that they would be recognized for their contribution in the design community.

The event is expected to be an inspirational evening celebrating and inspiring design professionals to join the OMSF mentoring mission called “Designing the Next Generation” a series of awards created by OMSF and Cumar Marble & Granite that celebrate those who share their time, expertise, and wisdom with upcoming generations of designers. With this ASID recognition for the community service Patti and Dawn have achieved through OMSF, Dawn is further energized to guide her OMSF Co-Founder Patti Austin in the beginnings of her blossoming career as an interior designer.

“For my ‘real job’, I am a stone designer at Cumar Marble & Granite. Our company is currently in its 8th generation of leadership in stone sourcing and fabrication in Everett, MA. Without mentoring and apprenticeships, the work that we do would not be possible. It is because of both my jobs, Cumar and OMSF, that I am so very excited to announce that both Patti Austin and I are being recognized this year for our service in the design community at the New England ASID 2013 Excellence in Design Award ceremonies” Dawn Carroll comments.

ASID New England President Mary Beth Haggerty commends their time and effort spent into making “Mentorology” a legitimate art and skill, “I know they have poured their heart and soul into mentoring”.

About Patti Austin:
Grammy winner Patti Austin crosses all musical genres, has made 17 solo albums, and has performed her award-nominated hit songs on the GRAMMYS® and the Oscars. As a performer, songwriter and vocalist she has had a star-studded career that began at the age of four, making her one of the most beloved artists the world over and a mainstay on the Billboard Jazz Albums charts. Patti’s extraordinary career continues to cross over boundaries and reach new heights.

About Dawn Carroll:
Dawn Carroll, an Award winning designer at Cumar Marble & Granite, has been consulting on stone design and fabrication for New England’s most prestigious properties for 15 years. Dawn is considered one of the industry’s most highly regarded stone consultants and is the Executive Director, Co-Founder of Over My Shoulder Foundation. Dawn’s vision was to musically weave together her message: that without support and emotional sustenance we can become lost, disconnected, and unstable-as individuals and as a society. As Dawn states, “The dream behind the OMSF is to celebrate, nominate, and reward mentors and mentees: a new cadre of creative talent which will have the leadership skills to amend many of our social and economic crises.”

About Over My Shoulder Foundation:
The Over My Shoulder Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Patti Austin and Dawn Carroll to promote mentoring and Mentorology through music and design. OMSF hails Mentorology, the art and science of mentoring, as the number-one priority as they move forward producing live events which bring together industry leaders in order to pay tribute to great mentors and put the spotlight on the importance of mentoring. OMSF started with a song called “Over My Shoulder,” with lyrics written by Dawn as a duet performed by legendary Patti Austin and one of her mentees, Lianna Gutierrez.

Visit http://pattiaustin.com/ for more information.

Contact Info
Name: Barry Orms
Organization: Patti Austin Enterprises
Email: info@pattiaustin.com

Source: http://marketersmedia.com/new-england-asid-2013-excellence-in-design-award-gala-presents-patti-austin-dawn-carroll/5597

[box]Today’s amazing mentoring story is written by our Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF) resident poet, Marissa Ranahan. Marissa sheds some light on the anti-bullying work being done by an 11-year-old named Elayna Hasty. Young minds do great things, and it is part of the work we do at OMSF to help YOU to start thinking about those first glimmers of brilliance in your own career – and recognizing them in young minds waiting for mentors. Waiting for someone to watch over their shoulder.

You can see sparks from such a young age. From Elayna’s passion for spreading the anti-bullying message to 7-year-old Carly Connor’s expertly executed interview with American Idol singer Ayla Brown, Over My Shoulder Foundation is rooting for them – for mentors. If you don’t take our word for it, take the word of Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. In a promo for “The Fashion Fund” (a new mentor-centric TV show) she says, “I love seeing people at the beginning of their careers. It is then when they have their first spark.”

Let Elayna’s spark ignite your inspiration for mentoring and don’t wait to make Mentorology (the art and science of mentoring) a part of YOUR life today.

Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director[/box]

11 Year Old Elayna Hasty, GAB Girls Founder

“Stand up for what is right, even if you’re standing alone because it just takes one to make a positive difference.”

– Elayna Hasty

The “GAB” Girls Inspiration- A Young Girl’s Fight Against Bullying in the 21st Century by Marissa Ranahan

“Bullying has turned into a battleground of intolerance, and I want girls to know that anything that they set their minds to can happen” explained Elayna Hasty, the founder of the website and organization “GAB” Girls.

“GAB” Girls, or “Girls Against Bullying Girls” is a website entirely dedicated to helping girls overcome the countries’ bullying epidemic. The website displays accounts of girls who have been bullied and their progression towards self-confidence. GAB Girls features tips for parents and girls who are struggling with bullying. The website’s guest book features words of praise from girls and parents all over the world.

Elayna Hasty’s GAB Girls Website

It All Started as a Young Idea…

What started as an idea has become a safe haven for an increased number of young women. The comments are united with the love of Elayna’s positive message; it is possible to overcome bullying. The kicker? For developing this touching movement, Elayna Hasty hasn’t even reached middle school.

At the tender age of eleven, Elayna’s intellectual personality shines brighter than her visibly beautiful looks. For a competitive cheerleader and avid church volunteer, Elayna has a mature head resting on her shoulders. In the future, Elayna aspires to be a veterinarian or pediatrician. Elayna’s drive for helping others shows in her future aspirations. However, inside this bright and bubbly personality, Elayna has her own personal inspiration behind the development of GAB Girls.

“It all started when I was in the first grade.” Elayna began to recall. “I walked into the room and one of the girls was just standing there and mocking me. I was thinking to myself, what in the world is going on? I finally took a stand and said knock it off, but it didn’t really quite work.”

The next day Elayna bravely approached her mother, Laura Leese, to tell her what was going on. “My mom and I agreed it was bullying. So then I got the idea to help other girls, and maybe also help myself.”

Elayna’s Anti-Bullying Inspirations

In addition to her own bullying experience at school, Elayna’s other inspiration stemmed from a close friend who was being bullied. In terms of comparison, Elayna’s friend’s case was very different. Elayna realized her friends bullying was becoming increasingly severe. “My friend was bullied to the point where she had to be taken out of school and become homeschooled. I never understood why they bullied her.”

Elayna also witnessed cyber bullying in her own fifth grade classroom. A fellow classmate was writing mean emails to her friends, as Elayna describes; “She was calling her stupid, I tried to tell an adult, but my friend was too scared.” Elayna agrees it is always important to tell an adult when you are being bullied. “They think telling an adult will make it worse, but it will actually make it better. Just try to stay confident even if you’re scared.”

Through her inspirations, Elayna has reached out to Facebook where users can virtually “Like” her GAB Girls page. The GAB Girls Facebook page features positive quotes and inspiration for young women and adults. The page has acquired likes from different people around the world. The positive statuses are something for girls to look forward to when they open up their news feed, as a reminder that they do not fight their bullying battle alone.

The Growth of GAB (Girls Against Bullying) Girls

As the comments and likes continue to progress, Elayna has become increasingly proud of her GAB Girls accomplishments. The pride comes from every comment or like that she acquires on her page. Every comment she acquires makes her beam with pride. Right before her eyes, she is witnessing a generation being touched by her message.

What Elayna Wants YOU to Know about Bullying

“Bullying is a real problem but it has very real solutions. Sometimes girls feel down and not always confident in themselves. I want girls to know they are uniquely beautiful both on the inside and out” she says.

Bravo, Elayna.

Don’t forget to visit the GAB Girls website!

[box]If you like Over My Shoulder Foundation, please SHARE your mentoring stories, consider donating to our non-profit and don’t forget to follow Over My Shoulder Foundation on Facebook too.[/box]

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This picture is from the village of Ndonyo Nasipa in Samburuland, Kenya. Voss Foundation partnered with Milgis Trust to provide clean water to the village. After the tribe blessed the water, you were the first to turn on the tap. What were you thinking at that moment?