LAKELAND, FL (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Bullying can destroy a child’s confidence, ruin their self-esteem, and leave them feeling completely alone.
Eighteen million kids will be bullied in the United States this year. That comes out to one out of every four.
It can impact almost every aspect of their young lives. In fact, three million students fake being sick because they feel unsafe at school. That adds up to 160,000 kids each day who stay home because they fear their classmates.
One young man has become a voice for the bullied and he’s hoping to challenge other kids to speak up and stop the violence.
When Jaylen Arnold was just a young child, the tics of Tourette’s syndrome started.
”I rolled my eyes, I twitched my eyes, I jerked my neck, and everything’s fully, completely involuntary,” said Jaylen.
Diagnosed with Tourette’s, Asperger’s, and OCD, you could see how it impacted him physically. But what you couldn’t see -- the emotional turmoil Jaylen was going through.
”Kids would call me a, a demon. They would steal my lunchboxes, steal my clothes, break my stuff,” said Jaylen.
Jaylen’s mother, Robin Arnold spoke, “I’ve heard that he was demon-possessed, that I should have him put down like a euthanasia, like an animal. Jaylen was made to wear sign at school saying, ‘my name is Jaylen Arnold, and I have Tourette’s syndrome and autism’ around his neck at school.”
This is when Robin and Jaylen said, enough is enough.
”He said, ‘I want to go tell them kids what they did to me,’” said Robin.
Jaylen faced his bullies and educated his entire school on Tourette’s syndrome and his message caught fire worldwide.
Jaylen’s Challenge was born. His nonprofit won the Princess Diana Legacy Award and now at 22, Jaylen has told his story to more than 300,000 kids in schools around the country.
“The number one thing, I push through, and I drive through the heads of our youth is to really speak up. Don’t, don’t suffer in silence,” said Jaylen.
Every child taking part in Jaylen’s Challenge receives a book, glow-in-the-dark wristband and certificate. In return, they actively take part in stopping bullies.
”Jaylen’s Challenge has showed me that with the right tools and with the right mindset, that you can not only help yourself but help everyone along the way and they can help other people, and it just becomes one big ripple effect. I knew that if I could speak up and be a voice for kids who felt like they had no voice, that I could change the world eventually with this message,” told Jaylen.
Jaylen is graduating from college this month with a bachelor’s degree in film production and a minor in business. He hopes to continue his work with the foundation.
To date, there are more than 200 schools on the waitlist to hear Jaylen speak and to this day, no one at Jaylen’s Challenge gets paid.
One hundred percent of donations go back into the foundation to fund the supplies for the kids. You can find out more about Jaylens Challenge and get free educational tools and information at jaylenschallenge.org.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer and Editor.To receive a free weekly email on Smart Living from Ivanhoe, sign up at: