Bullies often target children who appear to be “different.” Jaylen Arnold found this out at a very early age. He became the victim of bullying by classmates who made fun of his vocal and motor tics – symptoms associated with his challenging battle with Tourette Syndrome. Jaylen also suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome (broad spectrum Autism).
“I had friends who were bullied too; we were all too afraid to speak up,” Jaylen said. “I decided there was another way to stand up for myself and I worked hard to start our Bullying No Way! campaign to speak not for just myself, but for others. I’m determined to end bullying in our schools.”
Jaylen decided to become the voice for millions of other children who have been bullied for being different. With the mantra “Bullying No Way!” anchoring his movement, Jaylen started the Jaylens Challenge Foundation, determined to end childhood bullying for good.
“I thought about everyone who must be getting bullied all over the world,” Jaylen said. “I want to be that voice for them. I want to be the change.”
Since then, Jaylen’s mission to end bullying has spread across the United States. To date, Jaylens Challenge Foundation has educated more than 100,000 children about the harmful consequences of bullying through anti-bullying presentations and workshops. His program and presentations highlight astonishing bullying statistics and incorporate education and direction from his personal recollections. Jaylen also teaches children about the importance of recognizing each other’s unique differences, highlighting the ways in which every individual person can help end bullying.
Jaylen’s incredible impact has garnered the attention of everyone from actor Leonardo DiCaprio — who now wears Jaylen’s signature blue and yellow wristband — to talk show host Ellen Degeneres — who recently donated to Jaylens Challenge Foundation.
Jaylen took the time to talk with us about challenges he faces, how to stop bullying, and what it means to win a World of Children.
1. What do you think is the number one challenge you face to stop bullying?
Definitely the size and percentage of how many kids and people are bullied. Bullying happens everywhere, even with all of the supporters of Jaylens Challenge (which I’m incredibly grateful for), it is very difficult for us to reach every place and every school – but it will not stop us from trying!
2. Could you explain the idea behind “Bullying No Way!”?
When I visit a school, camp, or club I always tell the kids: “When I say bullying, you say ‘No Way!'” So the kids and I go back and forth until they are saying it very loudly.
3. If a student sees someone else being bullied, what should they do?
Do not be a bystander. That is very popular phrase right now, but very true. Always go to a teacher, adult, principal, parent, or school resource officer if you see someone or know someone being bullied. You can be the one who stops the suffering for that person.
4. Do you have any advice for other young people who want to start programs like yours?
I would say to stay focused, determined, and if you have issues explaining yourself at times, just think about how you really feel, how much you really want to inspire others.
5. What does it mean to you to win a World of Children?
There are so many words. It means so much! I feel so happy that I was chosen for the award. It reminds me that what I’m doing DOES help others, and if I can just help a few people, it will grow! Those people will help others, and those people will help others, etc…
On November 6, Jaylen Arnold will be honored in New York City with the 2014 World of Children Youth Award at our annual Awards Ceremony along with 5 other extraordinary changemakers for children. Learn more >>