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We delivered 716 letters to Ethan on 1/27/18!
In a FIRST for the Be-A-Friend Project, former Friend Mail Recipient (our #10), ROBERT, volunteered to deliver Ethan's "Friend Mail" IN PERSON as a SURPRISE since they live nearby in the same state. WOW! Robert did a great job! HUGE thanks to both Robert 's and Ethan's families for working together to arrange this special delivery! Check out the pictures and special videos from the delivery and a thank you from Ethan!
Please consider writing our new current Project Youth!!
Ethan and his Grandmother who called the Be-A-Friend Project for support!
Be-A-Friend to Ethan
Bullied 5th Grader (10) asks for peer support
from the Be-A-Friend Project!
Too often, we hear about children who chose to end the pain of being bullied by harming themselves or others. In Ethan, for the first time at the Be-A-Friend Project, we have a courageous youth who has chosen instead to REACH OUT to us for your peer support as he struggles with the effects of being a target of cruelty. We are SO PROUD of this brave ten-year-old boy from Pennsylvania. Help us to applaud his positive choice by sending him a ton of support!!
Be-A-Friend Project Director, Jennifer Young, answered the phone a few weeks ago to find a concerned grandmother on the other end speaking for her beloved grandson, Ethan, who was right beside her, listening. Ethan had heard about the Be-A-Friend Project and was hoping for letters of support, especially from other kids who might have experienced bullying.
Ethan's grandmother felt the bullying started when he was learning how to play the violin last year and the bully began teasing him, saying "violin is for girls." When we talked to Ethan's mom, she felt the bullying may have started much earlier. This very verbal and super-smart boy was not an easy fit for his particular group of "rough & tumble, athletic" classmates. As far back as preschool, he felt different.
After we spoke with his grandmother, Ethan wrote us this letter:
"I am in 5th grade now but in 4th grade, I was bullied by a child in my class. He still finds me this year at recess.
It started in October (last year) as just teasing in my face but it quickly escalated into spreading rumors behind my back in the next month or so. It didn't get much better through the year. I talked to the teacher and the principal. Then it got worse.
In February, he went to a higher level (of bullying). He started taking my things in class, stealing (and breaking) my personal items and continuing to spread rumors. Kids in other classes got involved because of the rumors spreading, because they believed him."
Ethan's mom calls her son "A GREAT PERSON WITH A GREAT HEART." When his parents went through a divorce, Ethan actually wrote a book of advice for other kids to help them cope with divorce. That's empathy!
Classmates have told Ethan that they don't want to sit next to him or do work with him. They call him "Ethan The Worm," spread rumors that he is "bad" and call him "weird." They formed a "lunch club" and told him he wasn't invited. A "lunch club" is against the rules at Ethan's school and when he reminded them of that, the kids just made fun of him for it. Even just recently, the same bully from 4th grade stole his fidget spinner. Ethan just tries to avoid him at recess.
"I really believe that positive feedback from other students will help him to have a big picture view of the good in the world. I know he would make a great ambassador once he has the experience himself," says his grandmother.
"I don't think I have a bad personality," Ethan says. HE IS RIGHT!
Ethan's mom feels he has "resigned himself to feeling that he's not someone who gets to be a part of other kids and fit in. He feels like he's different and it makes him very sad."
When you write Ethan's letter, let him know he'd be an awesome friend and that being different is interesting and cool.
ETHAN WOULD ESPECIALLY LIKE TO HEAR IF YOU HAVE BEEN BULLIED, TOO, SO HE KNOWS HE IS NOT THE ONLY ONE AND NOT ALONE!
For the first time in Be-A-Friend Project history, our "Friend Mail" delivery will not be a surprise... but everything that YOU put in your letters WILL BE.
Ethan, you have hundreds of kids across the country thinking about you, stepping into your shoes and writing you letters. We hope for that knowledge to keep you strong until we can deliver in about 5 weeks and you can see for yourself how many of your peers support you!!
ETHAN, YOU ARE FRIEND STRONG!
Getting letters "will help me by showing me there are other kids in the world that are bullied."
The Be-A-Friend Project does not give advice, therapy or intervention.
Our one purpose is to send letters and cards of encouragement and caring from kids to kids.