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Mojo Up: Pioneer students take stand against bullying
Shouts of “Mojo Up” echoed across the Pioneer Middle School cafeteria Tuesday morning as Travis Brown — an inspirational speaker who goes by ‘Mr. Mojo’ known for his anti-bullying tours — rallied-up the school’s 500-plus students.
“I am blessed to speak all across the United States as an anti-bully coach,” said Brown after an introduction by Julieta Ortiz. “I’m here today because I’m on a mission — that you too can have a Mojo Up attitude.”
Brown soon had the crowd at ease with games, his unique way of connecting with the students during his “Operation Mojo No Bullying Tour.”
“You have the power to help people but you also have the power to hurt people,” Brown said after talking about rumors.
He offered several examples, stories about students bullied due to hair length, height, weight, intelligence or lack of, family, or social status.
“You can push people to the edge,” he said.
Those who turn to violence and fight, can ruin their own futures by being thrown into jail, creating life-changing events. Others can be pushed into dropping out of school, turning to drugs and alcohol, or to self-harm.
“The truth is, 4,500 students pay the ultimate price every year with suicide,” Brown said. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
He then reminded the students that there is always another way out, and encouraged students to talk to a teacher, coach or friend.
“Every one of you in here can be like me every single day. All you have to do is Mojo-up,” Brown said, returning to his anti-bullying talk.
After defining bullying, the bully, the bullied, promoters, those who encourage others to bully, he turned his message to bystanders — those who see bullying, yet do nothing to help stop it. He encouraged the students not to be that way, and to ‘Mojo up’ — stand up and take a stand.
“Don’t just stand there. When you see bullying occur, Mojo Up and take a stand,” he said. “If you see a problem and cannot solve it, go to an adult and tell them what is going on.”
Students were also encouraged to believe in themselves, embrace differences and be proud of who they are — and to always find good in others.
He covered reporting bullying as soon as possible and to never assume that an adult saw or heard it.
Being specific when reporting is also key — giving details of what exactly happened, when, where and who was involved. Names or clear descriptions of those involved is essential.
“This was a great kickoff to 2013,” said school principal Isaac Nunez. “Combatting bullying is a continuous process, not just a one-time thing. He really encouraged the students in keeping our school safe.”
Nunez said he liked how he stressed respect for self and others and how he addressed the topic without using the actual ‘Bully’ word excessively.
Brown’s visit was the result of two seventh graders, and Leadership PE students — Joselyn Contreras and Jessica Hermosillo — who said had seen many friends bullied and no one doing anything about it. The two collaborated, brainstorming before speaking with school officials and asking to bring Brown to the campus.
“We thought about what was going on and decided to do something about it. We looked up a lot of anti-bullying programs but went with Mr. Mojo because he has such a positive attitude and knows how to get kids’ attention,” Contreras said. “We then approached Mr. Nunes and told him we wanted Mr. Mojo. We started working on this a long time ago, before Christmas break. We are hoping he brings senses to bullies, to make them realize what and why they are doing it.”
Following the rally, Brown met with an approximate 70 students — 20 from student council and 50 from the leadership class — to talk to them about generating activities to continue being proactive in the fight against bullying.
Brown continued his tour Tuesday afternoon at Vandalia Elementary and will be speaking at Porterville High School today.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.