ONE ON ONE WITH ABBY BELCHER: FOUNDER OF ABBY’S PLEDGE

Meet Abby Belcher: A young teen who has formed her own anti-bullying organization, Abby’s Pledge.
Abby press release rally
About Abby: 

Favorite Color:  Emerald Green

Favorite Book: Several, particularly fantasy based and classical novels.

Hobbies:  Cheerleading, reading, computer animation, drawing and wolf and wildlife studies

What inspired you to begin Abby’s Pledge?

I started Abby’s Pledge because my big sister, who has Asperger’s syndrome which is a form or autism, was getting bullied a lot.  She was coming home crying and no matter how much my parents talked to the teachers it didn’t stop. The girls who were doing the bullying would exclude her, make fun of her, laugh at her and encourage other kids to do the same. The funny thing about that is that they are school cheerleaders and they are the ones that inspired me to do school cheerleading because I wanted to show people that not all school cheerleaders are mean.  In fact, this year I will go to school with some of these same people at school..and they don’t even realize how much hurt and pain they caused her or how many times they left her in tears or how what they did affected our family.  One time she went to sit at a lunch table and everyone got up and left.    Even as recent as last year she was still getting picked on.  At school last year someone threw spitballs in her hair.  I finally said “Enough! This has been going on long enough and if teachers won’t do anything because they don’t want to get involved and if kids don’t want to say anything because they think its funny then maybe I can.”

So, I started Abby’s Pledge as a way that people would not only take a pledge, but they must also TAKE ACTION and show their results.  It’s better this year and I don’t think she’s getting picked on as much but the damage is already done.  I also have gotten bullied too because well, I guess maybe I’m more different than them.  I’m a cheerleader but I am NOT popular. At all. If being popular means being mean then I don’t want to be popular. I really have a hard time relating to kids my age and i just get along better with adults.
What struggles did you face that you learned from in the process of starting your anti-bullying campaign?

The main thing was to get people to take me serious and be willing to hear my message. When you’re a kid some people place no value on what you have to say. At first it was really hard to get people to understand that what kids are saying about bullying should carry weight in how adults react to this problem.  Also, really there will be so many people who don’t believe in your dream and if you listen to them, there is no possible way to achieve your goals.  Financially, it takes a lot of money to spread my message and travel so I have to work extra hard to earn money by doing chores for other people.

You have accomplished more than many adults have. Did your young age affect you in any way on your path to your current success?

If anything, I think my age is a has been a major factor in preventing some major opportunities that I have had to fight for.  I have to work ten times harder than adults because of my age. My parents warned my that I would have to work very hard and boy, they were’t kidding. For example, my parents taught me at a young age that I must always keep learning, especially for what ever I have a passion for learning.  I was homeschooled starting at age 2, I learned to read at age 3 and by age 5 I had read many of the classics already.  I have already taken college courses in language and reading.  None of this matters though when I try to attend a workshop because they only see my age.  I am lucky to have a wonderful mentor who lets me be me and I can attend some events with her.  This last major event I attended I was able to network and so I hope that will open up opportunities to be able to attend more seminars and workshops not based on my age but maybe based on comprehension.  Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still a kid and I like playing with toys still.  My parents make sure I get enough time to be a kid and be silly and stuff like that. They encourage it and I don’t think they want me to grow up.

We have heard rumors that you met President Obama! What have you done politically to put an end to bullying? 

I did not meet the president but i have heard that rumor too.  I WANT to meet him though! I did write to Mrs. Obama and I explained my anti-bully campaign to her.  She wrote me back and sent me a few autographed pictures.  Then, I wrote her again and kept writing her and she always writes back. I have 4 letters so far from her.  I like her alot.  I also went to Washington DC this past August and got to meet some congressmen. After meeting with each of them asking and giving them ideas for new anti-bullying laws, they took my pledge! It was my first time there and I really loved it there. I’m definitely going back. And soon.

Abby with Congressman McGovern, taking the pledge to end bullying.
Abby with Congressman McGovern, who is taking the pledge to end bullying.
Do you have any new projects you are currently working on for your organization?

Yes, I am.  I have several things but most involve speaking engagements across the country to several different groups.  I am also focusing more on domestic violence and abuse and I really enjoy supporting other groups that are making a difference.  My goal is to be as active and get my message out to as many people as possible.  By taking my pledge, it creates self accountability and that self accountability is what helps to create change.  I will be giving away my first Abby’s Pledge ‘Never Forget’ scholarship worth $1500.00 that will be given away to a high school senior who is involved in cheerleading and community service this spring of 2014.  I have earned the money on my own without donations from anyone through doing chores for neighbors and my community.  In 2015 I hope I will increase the amount to $2500.00 and within 5 yrs to $10,000.  The Abby’s Pledge Masquerade Ball is a huge benefit fundraiser that is taking months of planning to make happen and proceeds will go to help causes focusing on bullying resources, abuse and domestic violence programs. I hope to have it in 2014. During the holidays I’ll be kicking off a sock drive to help provide socks and mittens to the homeless during the winter months.  All of this is self funded by me doing car washes, garage sales and chores for other people.  To date, I have received only one private citizen financial donation so Abby’s Pledge is a slow but very rewarding process.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Oh wow, 5 years.  To be honest college I hope.  Baylor University. Besides that, I would really like to see Abby’s Pledge grow into a strong foundation that keeps with the same values I started it with. I want people to understand that I’m not just some kid who started Abby’s Pledge as just some little project.  I plan on being a global leader in bullying and abuse prevention and awareness.  Everything that I do is done with the purpose to make that happen.  I have AMAZING mentors who help guide me in the right direction and my parents who tell me the best way to learn is just by doing it.

Do you have any advice for our young readers who are struggling with bullying?

Don’t listen to ANYONE who says mean things about you.  Just be yourself, love yourself and ACCEPT yourself.  Always talk to someone you can trust because if you don’t then adults can’t help you if they don’t know whats going on.  You have the power within yourself to stop the hurt and pain someone is trying to afflict on you, you just have to learn to use it.  You are not alone and you don’t have to be.  Keep talking until someone hears you and can help you stop the hurt.   Don’t give up and most of all, YOU MATTER AND YOUR VOICE IS IMPORTANT!

What can our readers do within our community to put an end to bullying?

Bullying isn’t just the victims problem or the abuser’s problem.  It’s ALL of our problems and until the community realizes that and takes a stand to make a change, we will continue to have the problem.  We must educate parents, educators, law enforcement and counselors about what bullying is and isn’t, prevention methods, as well as constantly talk to kids about it.  Most importantly I think, adults need to lead by example because us kids are simply watching and repeating everything we are seeing them do.

You can learn more about Abby at http://www.abbyspledge.org
Advertisements

Published by

Lisa Opie

Lisa Opie is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and is the founder of Lady Code. Lisa loves to write about fashion, beauty, and travel. Although her main focus is Lady Code, she is also the creator and designer of Vizcaya Swimwear. Keep up with Lisa on Instagram: @Lisa_Opie

Leave a Comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s