By CHANDLER KESSLER
On July 19 in Oklahoma City, St. Luke’s United Methodist youth group gathered with new friends at Epworth Villa, a nonprofit UM-related retirement community, and discussed the topic of bullying.
Both the youths and elders shared past personal experiences with bullying. It was interesting to know older generations went through the same problems that we still face today.
Devan Wells, a 16-year-old, bravely shared his testimony first on that Sunday afternoon.
"When I was younger I used to always get bullied for my weight," he said. "It wasn’t always easy, but I learned to take that anger and turn it into something more positive."
Another teen, Caleb Jones, said he has been bullied simply because of what he enjoys doing. "I would be called names because of my hairstyle and for my love of the violin," he said.
A very different perspective was shared by Wilma Reppert, an elderly Epworth Villa resident.
She admitted that she had been a bully! The room became silent as the teenagers listened to her touching story.
"We would do horrible things to innocent people and be completely unsympathetic," Reppert admitted.
I think every teen who heard her felt compelled to make a difference today.
Witnessing all the testimonies, I realize bullying still is happening in schools all around the United States. It’s an ongoing issue that may never change.
But I have learned we can take that energy and turn it toward something more positive and be agents of change. We can try standing up to the bully and being nice to more people. Even simply complimenting a person we don’t know will make a remarkable difference to someone.
All the elders had some recollection of being bullied. It was apparent that the bad memories can fade, but they never disappear.
Thanks to Epworth Villa for sharing such valuable life lessons with us.
(Kessler, age 15, is part of St. Luke’s youth group.)
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