It’s another typical school night in December.
Sophomore Kelly O’Donnell sits at her computer and clicks on a link to a YouTube video that keeps showing up on her Facebook newsfeed.
She wonders what this could be about and who the boy in the video is, so she clicks play.
The video that she watched, titled “Whats Goin On,” was made by 14-year-old teenager Jonah Mowry who shared his story by holding note cards he wrote on in front of his webcam about how he had been bullied since the first grade.
This would be the video that inspired O’Donnell to create a new bullying-prevention club at BV called “One Life.”
“I literally didn’t do my homework that whole night — I just wrote out all these ideas for this group,” she said. “I wrote out who, what, when, where, why and how. I know it took a lot of notebook paper, but I finally got a final copy down.”
The next morning, O’Donnell took her idea to Principal Scott Bacon, where he approved the club and told her all she had to do was find a sponsor.
She picked social studies teacher Jessica Janish and communication arts teacher Teresa Schulte as sponsors.
O’Donnell said starting this club took a lot of thinking, dedication and hard work.
“It took a lot of thought because I wanted it to be good,” she said. “I didn’t want it to sound corny. I wanted people to join, and I wanted to show everyone the point of having this club. You need to put a lot of dedication into it because you can’t just put half your heart into it.”
O’Donnell said she chose the name “One Life” because of how bullying can affect someone’s life or lead to suicide.
“You only have one life — you don’t want to live it by putting other people down to make you feel better,” she said. “Sometimes bullying can get to a point where you have suicidal thoughts. Everyone only has one life, and they don’t want to remember all the bad times from when they were bullied.”
O’Donnell said the bullying she’s seen and her own personal experiences with it also led her to start One Life.
“I see it so much all over Twitter and Facebook, and it’s just never going to stop,” she said. “It’s never going to go away unless we really do something about it. I was bullied in fifth grade verbally, always at the playground, so I think from my experiences and then looking at other people’s [experiences], I wanted to do something about it.”
O’Donnell said she thinks this club will take a different approach by having students become more involved in bullying prevention.
“We’ve tried so many things to prevent bullying already,” she said. “We’ve had Bacon talk. We’ve had speakers come in. We’ve had things in the newspaper about it. People always say to go tell an administrator, but I think we need to help each other out — we need to stop it ourselves, too. We can’t just sit there. Most people are scared if they say something that they’ll get judged, but once you tell them, they’ll be like, ‘Wow, I really was bullying that person.’ You need to put yourself in [the person being bullied’s] perspective.”
O’Donnell said she thinks bullying is awful and that it gets to a point where she’ll call the bully out on what they’re saying or doing.
“When I see stuff on Facebook, I just have to say something about it,” she said. “People need to just let people be how they want to be without getting picked on. People say things here and there. I’m not perfect either — that’s not what I’m trying to say at all. But sometimes they just have to be more careful about what they say or do.”
She said she hopes this club will spread to elementary, middle and high schools in the district, so the club will visit and talk to other students about bullying.
One Life will start sometime this semester and will meet on the first Monday of every month.
O’Donnell said the first meeting will consist of lots of planning and brainstorming with everyone involved.
“We’ll talk about what we want to do for the rest of the year, visiting-wise, talking at assemblies and putting out happy quotes all over the lockers like what [Fellowship of Christian Athletes] did last year,” she said. “I don’t want only my ideas. I want to hear from everyone else, too.”
O’Donnell said One Life is open for everyone to join and will put up posters around the school when the first meeting date is decided.
“I want people, not just on Twitter who are following me and not just my friends, but everyone to be a part of this,” she said. “If you are a bully, or you were a bully or you have been bullied, you just need to see what it really is doing to people’s lives. There’s still people that are going to make fun of others, but I just want the bullying to decrease. Bullying has always been around, but for people who get involved, they can make lives change.”