Last week I discovered a truly amazing story of one tormented girl and two compassionate sisters. October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and as I researched stories I hoped would be “mentoring-centric” a fabulous book was given to me.
“Letters to a Bullied Girl” is one of those stories you will fall in love with and will never forget. It takes you into the gut-wrenching life of Olivia Gardner (the Bullied Girl) and the two sisters who were determined to do something to inject hope, healing and encouragement into her world. Emily and Sarah Buder, the dynamic sisters who initiated a letter writing campaign: messages addressed personally to Olivia to lift her spirits. One of my favorite notes that was sent to Olivia simply said this:
“Hope you feel better – Don’t give up on life. I tried and it is a stupid and terrible thing to do”
What can we do during this month to reach out to the bullied and offer support? How can we transform a bully and change their cruel behavior? Buy them a copy of this wonderful book. Introduce everyone to Emily and Sarah Buder, our fabulous mentors of the month. Their courageous efforts remind us that we all can make a difference. Each of us can dedicate a little kindness and change a life. Emily and Sarah had a mission, One Less Hopeless Person. As a result voices from all over chimed in and made a difference. -Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Alberto G. Rojas, 212-207-7891
LETTERS TO A BULLIED GIRL
Messages of Healing and Hope
By OLIVIA GARDNER with EMILY and SARAH BUDER
With A Foreword by BARBARA COLOROSO, author of The Bully, The Bullied and The Bystander
Like millions of adolescents, Olivia Gardner was the target of bullying. Her personal nightmare began after suffering an epileptic seizure at school, prompting a wave of taunting and name-calling that grew into a tsunami of torment when some of her classmates created an “Olivia’s Haters” page on a popular teen networking site. But unlike many such stories, Olivia’s took a positive, and surprising, turn thanks to the intervention of Emily and Sarah Buder, two teenage sisters who didn’t know Olivia, but read about her plight in the newspaper and decided to do something about it. Their grassroots campaign to get friends to write letter of encouragement and support to Olivia took on a life of its own, triggering a national groundswell of support.
Now Olivia Gardner and her two steadfast champions have collected some of the thousands of letters and messages that the campaign generated into an inspiring and moving book, LETTERS TO A BULLIED GIRL: Messages of Healing and Hope (Harper; Trade Paperback Original; On Sale: August 5, 2008; $14.95). Containing a representative cross-section of the widespread show of solidarity, LETTERS TO A BULLIED GIRL is first book in which those involved in the bullying epidemic are sharing their personal, private and true stories. Their accounts underscore both the breadth and persistence of the bullying epidemic, while offering hope to anyone who has ever been the target of this insidious form of emotional torture. With correspondents ranging from young children to parents to retirees, girls and boys, women and men – even former bullies themselves – these stories of enduring and overcoming bullying are empathetic and wise.
There are those who were bullied for their “different” looks, like the overweight girl with braces, the sixty-two year-old woman who still vividly remembers being taunted for being skinny as a child, or the seventy-two year-old woman with a hooked nose. Letter writers recall being bullied for being short, being Hispanic, being white, being gay. Sadly, unchecked bullying took some to the brink – and beyond, contemplating and even attempting suicide. Others write about their lifelong shame at having been bullies, explaining the source of their behavior, though not condoning it.
The last section of LETTERS TO A BULLIED GIRL focuses on healing words, motivational thoughts from people across the country who were moved by Olivia’s story, even some who were themselves not bullied. “Stand up straight and hold your head high with a smile on your face,” one writes. “You’re a spokesperson for all the others who have been bullied in the world.” “You have strength, compassion for others, love, and survival skills that many adults do not attain,” writes another. “These skills will serve you well in your life and I expect that the many wonderful things you do in your adulthood will be in part because of what you have experienced in your childhood.”
In an age where the timeless problem of bullying has grown epidemic, thanks in part to the new phenomenon of cyber-bullying, LETTERS TO A BULLIED GIRL should prove an invaluable resource for parents, teacher, and anyone seeking advice about how to deal with this odious reality. By refusing to stand by and doing nothing, Olivia, Emily and Sarah have sparked a quiet revolution, unleashing an emotional response from thousand, and providing hope for millions more who have fallen target to this often unspoken-about reality of childhood.
About the Authors
Olivia Gardner is a fifteen-year-old high school student from northern California. She is now forming healthier friendships and is no longer bullied. Sisters Emily and Sarah Buder are eighteen- and fifteen years old, respectively, and live in a suburb of San Francisco.
LETTERS TO A BULLIED GIRL: Messages of Healing and Hope
Olivia Gardner with Emily and Sarah Buder
Harper; Trade Paperback Original
On Sale: August 5, 2008
Price: $14.95/240 PP