LETTERS OF SUPPORT DELIVERED
Season 6 of the Be A Friend Project opens with a 2-year “booster shot” of support for 2018 Friend Mail Recipient "AYDEN" to show him
we mean it when we say “Friend Strong Family Forever."
In 2018, 6-Year-Old Ayden from Chicago endured months of physical, social and verbal bullying in Kindergarten while battling a hidden heart defect - and our Ambassadors responded with 1,373 letters of support to let him know he was not alone! Today, at 9-years-old and going into the 3rd Grade, this Upstander just passed his two-year "heart-a-versary" of life-saving surgery, but COVID19 keeps him particularly isolated at home from friends and school; he needs support!
Play this Youtube Video by our
ON-AIR TEEN AMBASSADOR, BRIELLE WITHERS,
to learn all about AYDEN in 2020
Ayden posted a video in July this year asking for "pen pals" and saying, "Hi Everybody, I hope you are staying safe. Things are very troubling for me. I miss my friends at school." His plea prompted us to send Ayden an Official Ambassador Certificate and t-shirt in honor of his sending beautiful letters & videos of support to Friend Mail Recipients that came after him since 2018.
Ayden's mom tells us:
"He just moved his old Friend Mail Bin next to his bed, and he’s been re-reading some of his favorites....The letters are very therapeutic for him on his bad days. Last night, he asked to start reading at least 3 a night all over again. I wish everyone that wrote him a letter could see how much these letters mean to him. I find him smiling and giggling at times and I just soak it in.”
This 2018 Friend Mail Recipient has been through a lot in his 9 years, but has given back even more. One of our Ambassadors summed it up perfectly:
"You may not know it but you make everyone's life better than it already is... You actually inspired me to be kinder to others."
The Be A Friend Project has selected Ayden to open Season 6 in a "soft start" which will be followed by a new website launch and Recipient to be announced on October 1st in recognition of National Anti-Bullying Month.
THE DUE DATE FOR AYDEN'S BOOSTER-SHOT OF SUPPORT IS
Send physical letters to:
Be A Friend Project
449 Lane Gate Road
Cold Spring, NY 10516
Letters on email or for Google Drive links, send to:
Thanks for checking in!
We delivered a record-breaking 1,373 letters to Ayden
on his 7th birthday on 11/10/18!!
Please consider writing to our current Project Youth!
from Chicago endured months of physical bullying while battling hidden heart defect...
and what did he do about it?
Ayden started an anti-bullying Facebook page with his mom to fulfill kids' birthday wishes because, he tells CBS News 2 Reporter, Dana Kozlov,
“I want them to feel happy. If they don’t feel happy, I don’t feel happy.”
NEW!!! ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL EDUCATORS, SIMPLY SHOW BRIELLE'S YOUTUBE TO YOUR STUDENTS...
There is no explanation for the bullying that Ayden endured throughout his Kindergarten year. No one deserves to be bullied ever. One of the boys that targeted him told him "they were working together" to attack him. One classmate shrugged off his behavior by saying, "I was angry."
The boys repeatedly slammed Ayden's face into the concrete during recess. Ayden was pushed off the slide, and if he got to the bottom, they punched and kicked him. The bullies bit Ayden. They pulled down his pants and underwear in Music Class to embarrass him. The assaults continued for several months with a lack of reporting incidents to his mother who often found out only when her son told her his "head hurt."
Of course, months of bullying took an emotional toll on the Kindergarten boy. He began choosing to stay inside during recess. Mom Nelly told us that while Ayden already suffered with asthma, his breathlessness now turned into anxiety attacks. He would call her from school asking to be picked up. In his mom's words, her "strong, generous and loving" son would say he was too sick or just didn't want to go to school. "I hate my life," he continually told her and he began suffering nightmares at a tender SIX YEARS OLD!!
His mom kept Ayden home on his worst days and did not feel heard by the school's administration. Facing an attitude of "boys will be boys" from the bullies' parents and a Principal that summed it up by caling Ayden simply an "unlucky boy," Ayden's Mom turned to local CBS 2 news. Reporter Dana Kozlov stepped up to help. Only after the news story aired in March of 2018, a school social worker began a "safety plan" at school for Ayden which included "safe adults" to run to if bullying began... but not many consequences for the bullies. Even so, the last 2 months of school were free from attacks and it's hopeful that Ayden can now begin the work of recovering emotionally from the random cruelty, but his story does not end there...
Tap for March 2018 Reporting by Dana Kozlov
Moms Allege Plainfield School District Ignored Bullying Concerns
CBS 2 NEWS Chicago
Ayden's mom is a nurse, and during this past summer break, she noticed an increase in Ayden's symptoms of breathlessness and tiring quickly from activity, and soon discovered her brave, resilient son had also been battling the physical effects of congenital heart disease. After Ayden's heart surgery on August 23rd, his recovery should bring a physical strength of heart that equals his heart's inspirational strength of empathy.
Ayden wants to help other kids deal with bullies and posted this message on his Facebook page just days before his surgery...
Ayden is a
"STAR WARS" FANATIC! He loves giving to others, pictures and KARATE. Ayden was awarded a High Orange Belt before his heart fatigue made it necessary for him to take a break until he feels better after surgery.
Ayden and his mom share an Upstander's HEART OF GOLD and set out to overpower the cruelty that had entered their lives last fall with ACTS OF KINDNESS by starting a Facebook page called Ayden's Fulfilling Your Birthday Wish, to give presents to children on their birthdays.
As described by then five-year-old Ayden, "I'm gonna make you happy, that's why, so make a video or message what you don't have and I can buy you the toy! Happy Birthday!"
"If someone is bullying you, if they don't stop, then help them with something. Then, they will like you."
PLEASE follow BE-A-FRIEND
SEE SAMPLES! Tap here!
His mom says Ayden is excited but very nervous to return to school. He doesn't know if he will have any friends this year and wonders if he will be the target of bullying again. He will be starting first grade a couple of weeks late as he recovers from the heart surgery. His mom says he NEEDS TO KNOW THINGS WILL BE OKAY" and that things DO GET BETTER!
It does not escape our notice that Ayden is already doing for others what we want to do for him... SEND HIM SURPRISE PEER SUPPORT and BRING HIM JOY!! Ambassadors, let's get it done!! Let's just absolutely surprise this very special boy with the most FRIEND MAIL EVER DELIVERED!!
We are so excited to be able to celebrate this mighty survivor as an UPSTANDER, to help him STAY STRONG as he recovers from a formative year of being a victim of bullying, and to say FEEL BETTER from surgery and get well soon, all at once!!
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.
449 LANE GATE ROAD, COLD SPRING, NY 10516
Co-President Jennifer Cell: 845-742-7112
The organization’s formal legal name is BE A FRIEND PROJECT, INC.
It is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization / Federal Tax ID # 84-2802576.
Any donation to the Be A Friend Project, Inc. is tax-deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law, thank you!