The Anti-Bullying Society pledges to help those in need.
Kanisha Hicks is no stranger to the issues posed by bullying. She first experienced it in kindergarten. Over time, this developed into depression, and she started taking medication. However, she soon found the side effects were much worse than the depression, so she quit her medication and chose to face it.
As Hicks battled her demons, friends contacted her and shared their own stories. During these times, Hicks pushed her own hardships aside to address the pain of others. She took time out of her day to sit down and listen to those friends. “Sometimes, it really just takes someone listening to you,” said Hicks.
Her friends weren’t the only ones being helped by having someone lend an ear, for she also reaped rewards. “It helps me to help another person,” said Hicks. “I don’t mind missing sleep for that.” She then began contemplating ways to spread healing to people outside of her group of friends. It wasn’t until tenth grade that she established an organization to combat the effects of bullying.
Hicks founded the Anti-Bullying Squad in November of 2012. What started as a mass of ideas blossomed into an official organization at Cairo High School in Cairo, Georgia. Initially, the counselors told her that it would never work. Contrary to their conviction, the Anti-Bullying Squad, since renamed the Anti-Bullying Society, is still thriving.
Be the change you want to see.
In 2015, Hicks bought the rights to her organization so that she could “operate on a larger scale.” A year later, she introduced the society to Columbus State University. There, she is a sophomore who is currently majoring in Secondary Education with a concentration in Literature.“The transition is slightly difficult because...I have to do everything until I get a reliable team behind me,” said Hicks.
According to the society’s constitution, their purpose is to “motivate and inspire individuals who have been victims of bullying to know their self worth and unleash their awesomeness.” One way that the organization motivates people is a method known as Random Acts of Kindness (RAKS). RAKS involves someone going out and acting selflessly in hopes of brightening another person’s day. “It’s an everyday thing, like smiling,” said Hicks. She believes that this method is the most effective because even small gestures can have a profound impact on others.
The organization’s motto is, “Be the change you want to see.” Hicks based this motto around the idea that if you want a positive change to transpire, you must play a role in helping it to. The logo, an image of two hands stretching to meet at the center of a circle, was tailored to fit a similar concept. “Pretty much, it’s the world, and we’re reaching [out],” explained Hicks. She described it as a symbol of help and union. “If you reach halfway, we’ll meet you there. Together, we can have anti-bullying.”
At the Anti-Bullying Society, any CSU student can become a member. If you plan to join, you must fill out an application and pay dues, which are $15 per semester. Once you gain membership, you are allowed to participate in voting, be elected as an officer, and propose new ideas for group activities or events. There are monthly chapter meetings and daily interactions through social media, text, or Skype so that members can stay in touch. The chapter meetings take place at least once a month and include parties, games, movie showings, and barbecues.
The Anti-Bullying Society acts for the well-being of not only CSU but the entire city, and it does this through community service. “We really want to bridge the gap between college and community life,” said Hicks. “We can make the space a better place by keeping a smile on our face.” Some of her service projects will be canned food drives, gift collections, and a Janitor Appreciation Day.
In addition to arranging volunteer work outside of school, the society offers a mentoring program. “It was a program where I would take a group of high school students and show them different life skills,” said Hicks. Some of her lessons are “how to go to the bank, how to monitor credit, [and] how to survive in college.” Others concentrate on scholarships and college applications. Nevertheless, each lesson prepares students for the future and emboldens them to pursue their goals.
The mentoring program pairs up a member from the Anti-Bullying Society with a middle school or high school student based on comparable backgrounds and interests. Mentors are required to complete a written application, attend an interview with a member of the Awesome Committee (a committee of students in charge of the mentoring program), and attend training sessions that illuminate the objectives of the program. Mentees must fill out an application that has a parent/ guardian consent form. Applications include questions concerning basic information, such as email, interests, strengths, and schedule to ensure that each pair is matched correctly. Pairs meet weekly for two to three hours, and phone calls or emails are arranged a week before the meeting dates.
Sometimes it really just takes someone listening to you.
Hicks also encourages parents to become mentors. “A lot of negative behavior starts at home, so if I could get the parents involved and change their mindset, then that would eliminate a substantial amount of the negative behavior,” she said. “A person really wants the love and support of their parents.”
While Hicks has had a significant impact on other people because of her experiences with bullying, she still finds herself being asked the same question: If you could remove bullying from your past, would you? Her answer is a resounding no. “I would go through [bullying] all over again. If I was never bullied, I wouldn’t be the Kanisha I am today.”
The first entrance ceremony for the Anti-Bullying Society will be held on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. The tentative location is room 237 in the Student Center for Commerce and Technology building. You can contact Hicks for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org or 229-454-6095.
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