Utah’s Attorney General launched the state’s anti-bullying campaign during the Park City High School Monday morning assembly. Joining him was a man who travels the world speaking about kindness and self-love. Despite his physical limits and small stature, he kept some 1500 students captivated for an hour.
After AG Sean Reyes stunned the audience with his rap song, which he used as a lead in to welcome the keynote speaker, Nick Vujicic. Vujicic was born with no arms or legs. He turned his disability into an opportunity to raise awareness of the devastating impacts of bullying. He has 15 million social media fans and the assembly was live streamed with about 30,000 people tuned in including hundreds of schools.
“I am that guy. And I know I’m pretty short for my age but I’ll tell you right now, I am loving my life. I’m living the dream. You see that doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect. You see, my foot. We all have ups and down, ups and downs, ups and downs. And I love my little foot. I can do the Peace sign. Peace! How you doin’? I’ll tell you after two cups of coffee, I can type 53 words a minute on a normal computer. It was really, really cool man. When I was actually born, they had no idea I was going to be born this way. And I was born, and they said SURPRISE and they said oh my gosh. And, some people were freakin’ out like when I went to school. And they’re looking at me and like What Happened?”
He says when he was 10 years old, he had no hope and couldn’t imagine ever having a full life with his disability. Then he took students through an exercise that showed how many kids have thought about suicide.
“Bow your head, put your hand up nice and high in the air. Open your hand so I can see every teacher as well. Here we go. Put your hand in a fist if you have ever in your life thought of suicide. Go. Open your fist. Put your hand in a fist if you’ve actually attempted suicide. Go. Open your hand. Put your hand in a fist if you have attempted suicide because of your broken home situation or something with your family. Go. Open your hand. Put your hand in a fist because you’ve actually tried to commit suicide because of bullying in your school. Go. Open your hand.”
Before sharing results of his informal survey, Vujicic told the audience to never give up and remember they are not alone. He said teachers, counselors and school administrators care about them and he urged that each student download and use the Safe Ut app.
“I don’t know how many students there are here in this room but if you look left and you look right, every fifth student has thought of suicide. 20% of this room to 25 % of this room. One in four, I’m being conservative, have actually thought of committing suicide. One in every 15 have tried.”
Vujicic said Utah’s government is engaged in trying to help kids who feel depressed, hopeless and alone.
“Don’t give up. Download that app. Your state of Utah is the only state I’ve come across to have an app, to have an engaged government to tell you that we love you, we care for you. They’ve done this event to let you know it’s true. You’re not alone, you don’t have to walk this alone.”
Go to Nick Vujicic’s Facebook page to follow his 2019 Anti-Bullying Tour. You can find the link on KPCW.