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Students learn how to build emotional resilience to beat bullying

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

A national motivational speaker visited students at Kenmore West High School Wednesday for an anti-bullying event. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says students learned about how to 'build emotional resilience'. 

Brooks Gibbs is an author, speaker and educator of social skills.  Gibbs delivers a high powered, energized speech to students full of comedy and satire. Gibbs brand of humor on stage is to teach students how to be resilient against a bully. He said students should live by the ‘Golden Rule’ and be kind. Gibbs said that kindness will eventually cause a bully to back off. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Students at Kenmore West High School Wednesday listen to an new anti-bullying message.

"Despite all the anti-bullying laws, bullying continues to rise, so does the suicide rate, so do the homicides and school tragedies, so we are finally go back, right now to the drawing board and finally counselors have the ‘mic’ and they’re saying social and emotional learning – we’ve been saying it the whole time and we are finally seeing the culture go in that direction,” Gibbs explained.   

“What people say and do – do not hurt you – it’s what you think about what they say and do that hurts you, therefore your thinking is the cause of the pain,” Gibbs told students.

Gibbs was invited to speak by the Devin's Message FoundationDevin Kurzdorfer was a Kenmore West student who took his own life a year ago this week. His family said he was a constant victim of cyber-bullying and had high-functioning autism.  

“It was very difficult for our whole family with autism and it was very difficult to watch my son suffer the way he did, having to deal with these kids bullying him was very sad to watch,” remarked Antoinette Kurzdorfer, Devin's mom.     

Now his family is working to make sure other students learn to stand-up against bullying. 

“I really love the way he speaks to these children. It really takes them in and it’s something these kids can go home and use for themselves,” Kurzdorfer said.

Gibbs is from Littleton, Colorado. H had friends who died in the Columbine shooting that occurred 19-years ago, April 20, that's when he began writing and speaking.  

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Devin's Message Foundation family with Brooks Gibbs.

“You know April 20th is always a sad day for us, but there’s people like Rachel Scott – who was the first one killed at Columbine and her legacy, among others – they left incredible journals and songs that they wrote – we have that day of honoring those wonderful students and the legacy they left, so it is a day of celebration, which is memorializing, which has a flavor of mourning with it and that’s healthy,” Gibbs remarked.  

Gibbs used his own personal story of being bullied in school and even said while in elementary school, he often cut himself. Gibbs also appeared Wednesday at the North Tonawanda Middle School and Lockport High School.

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