Ms. RIGHT "Anti-bullying Event" with LaNiyah Bailey
By KRISTIN PEDICINI - firstname.lastname@example.org
HINSDALE – Four years ago, then 6-year-old LaNiyah Bailey said she came home from school in tears because of the mean-spirited comments students in her class would say to her.
As a therapeutic practice, LaNiyah’s mom, LaToya White, told her to write down what happened and why it made her so upset.
In a whirlwind of events, LaNiyah story, “Not Fat Because I Wanna Be,” was then turned into a book, which she also followed up with a bullying-themed activity book for kids called “Stand Up: Bully Busters Coming to Town.”
“Basically the message is to try to stand up [to bullying], even though it’s hard,” LaNiyah said. “I’m trying to get kids and tell them that bullying is not cool and it’s something people should not tolerate.”
“Not Fat Because I Wanna Be” tells the story of Jessica, a young girl who is bullied because of her weight, which is caused by a medical issue. Jessica gains weight, even though she is healthy and active, yet has to endure the painful experiences that come from bullying by her classmates. Jessica learns how to stand up for herself during the course of the story, which is modeled on LaNiyah’s real life experiences.
Since the release of the book, LaNiyah has been profiled on National Public Radio, CNN, the Huffington Post and other media outlets across the world.
The Hinsdale resident said she hopes her book will show other children who are being bullied that they’re not alone.
“They’re not the only ones getting bullied and it doesn’t just hurt them,” LaNiyah said.
LaNiyah, now a fourth-grade student at Madison Elementary School in Hinsdale, said there are many reasons why kids start bullying their peers, including jealousy or that the bully was once bullied themselves and are acting out because of it.
“I just want to tell them that it’s OK and they can stand up for themselves,” LaNiyah said. “But don’t take it so far that you become the bully.”
The now 10-year-old author was recently honored for her efforts to shine a light on bullying and for telling her own story. LaNiyah won a Kids Rock Award for Best Author during an Oct. 3. ceremony hosted by WGCI radio personality Demi Lobo.
The event was hosted to recognize kids who’ve made a positive difference or change in their communities through art, athletics and other categories.
At first, LaNiyah was nervous about winning the award, she said. But peer support and cheers from her family helped a lot.
Along with writing two books, LaNiyah also has plans to create an anti-bullying app, and she hasn’t stopped there. LaNiyah and her mom have been traveling to schools to share her anti-bullying message and to talk with students about the hurt bullying can cause.
For students being bullied now, LaNiyah said she’d give them two pieces of advice: Don’t show that it hurts your feelings and tell a trusted adult about what happened.
“Doing one thing can change and inspire so many people,” LaNiyah said. “I never knew at 6 years old that I could inspire so many people.”
Madison student serves as anti-bullying advocate, author.
Madison School fourth-grader LaNiyah Bailey was recently honored with a Kids Rock Award for Best Author.
The Oct. 3 event, hosted by WGCI radio personality Demi Lobo, recognizes children who have made a positive difference in their communities and who have done exceptional work in athletics, the arts and other fields. Bailey was highlighted for the book she penned, “Not Fat Because I Wanna Be,” and her related anti-bullying work.
The 10-year-old Hinsdale resident began writing as therapy after experiencing bullying in her former school due to her weight.
“It doesn’t feel good to be bullied,” Bailey said, “and being a bully doesn’t make any sense. You wouldn’t want someone doing it to you.”
Like Bailey, the main character in the book, Jessica, has a medical condition that causes weight gain and her classmates and teacher treat her unkindly. In “Not Fat Because I Wanna Be,” Jessica follows the steps that Bailey advises for any student experiencing bullying: she tells a trusted adult and tells the bullies how their actions make her feel. In the end, Jessica and the bullies become friends.
“Sometimes people who bully are jealous or they just don’t know you,” Bailey explained. “You shouldn’t let it go to your head and you should stand up for yourself, but you have to be careful or you could become the bully.”
Bailey said her mother, LaToya White, was her biggest supporter, encouraging her writing and then doing extensive research to find the right illustrator for the book (Laura Pérez Ricaud) and the Australian publishing house that helped guide the development of a fictional take on Bailey’s story.
“Witnessing LaNiyah inspire, empower, and encourage children and adults around the globe shows me that I’ve done something right,” White said. “It was my only hope to empower her and to help raise her self-esteem at a time when it was low. I think she’s got it from here! I am very happy to see how LaNiyah has evolved.”
After the book was published, Bailey participated in a number of radio and TV interviews, including a guest spot on Ricki Lake. Bailey was asked to help provide encouragement to a woman who had become a recluse after years of bullying. Bailey recalled telling the woman she was beautiful and not to be afraid.
“I told her that if someone judges you, act like it’s air — just go right through it,” she said.
Bailey has also made appearances at events for authors, meeting Taye Diggs, Common, Tyra Banks and Disney television characters. She also received a letter of praise from first lady Michelle Obama. Most recently, Bailey traveled to Korea, where her book is being used in teachers’ lesson plans. In her travels, Bailey says the message she hears most often is to “keep up the good work” and encouragement to continue making a positive change.
Bailey’s teacher at Madison School, Sheryl Cebula, continues to share that encouragement at school and sees Bailey having a positive effect on her classmates.
“Having LaNiyah in class and hearing her share about her experiences is uplifting and inspirational to us all because she has helped us remind that each person can make a difference in the lives of others,” Cebula said.
Bailey also helped to create an activity and coloring book featuring Jessica and her sidekick Diva Pup, named for Bailey’s dog Diva. Diva Pup can sense when someone is being bullied and the team goes to the rescue to provide strategies to help the victim feel safe.
“They try to help,” Bailey said, “but they don’t make everyone get along. They just try to find out why it’s happening and stop the bullying.”
Bailey said while she wants to be an author on the side, she has her sights set on being a lawyer or FBI agent. She is focused on school and her interests such as basketball, soccer and art, as well as the next project for her anti-bullying work — an app for students and schools that incorporates lessons on bullying with games that have information focused on friendship and positive messages
Madison School Principal Melinda McMahon said she believes there may be other opportunities to share those messages, as well.
“I plan to have LaNiyah offer our younger students the skills to instill confidence in their response to others who do not speak respectfully,” McMahon said.
For more information about Bailey and her anti-bullying advocacy work, visit www.notfatbecauseiwannabe.com.
And the winner is... LaNiyah Bailey!!!
LaNiyah and her superhero friends 'Jessica & Diva-pup' were in for quite the surprise at the Kids Rock Awards. When the winner was announced for 'Best Author' LaNiyah looked around the room in amazement when she was called. She and her superhero friends gladly accepted the award. This is LaNiyah's 2nd time winning an award for her Anti-bullying and Authoring work. In 2012, she won NBC, The Grio's 'Class of 2012.'
LaNiyah Bailey & Superhero Friends Jessica & Diva Pup Will Be At "Real Men Cook" Kids Pavilion - Chicago
Award-winning Author and Anti-Bullying Advocate, 9-year-old LaNiyah Bailey and her superhero friends Jessica & Diva Pup will be signing autographed copies of her books at the 25th Annual "Real Men Cook," Kids Pavilion on Father's Day, June 15, 2014. Grab your family, come on out to this family friendly event and show your support to such a great cause while enjoying good food, music and family fun. Get your tickets HERE.
If this is your first time hearing about LaNiyah Bailey here's a quick recap video of some of her media appearances.
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Disney Show I like: "I Didn't Do It"
Hey did you see the new season of " I Didn't Do IT?" It was super cool! I liked it a lot. Olivia Holt is the main character who supposed she didn't ride a bike trough the yard! I think Olivia is cool. Here is a video of her talking about the show. Let me know if you watch the show too.
Next week I will be talking about my baby sister NOELLE Bailey she is my world! Let me know if you give it a thumbs up or thumbs down.
Award-winning youth author and anti-bullying advocate.