Shared from the 4/21/2018 Mon Valley Independent eEdition

Marion Elementary 4th-grader tackles bullying

Elementary student will sponsor National Call It Out Day activities at her school.

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Submitted McKenna Ross

At 10, Marion Elementary student McKenna Ross is doing her part to tackle bullying.

On Friday, the fourth-grader will sponsor National Call It Out Day activities at the Belle Vernon Area school.

The goal will be to educate her peers on the negative effects of online social isolation and bullying.

Call It Out Day is part of a prevention initiative by the national nonprofit Beyond Differences, designed to bring awareness to gossip and other social issues.

“I’ve been bullied (in person) and online and so have my friends,” McKenna said. “Social isolation is a big problem, and I could help change that.

“I could give some people a chance to see how people work together to make a difference, to make new friends and see that bullying is not OK, and they can speak up.” McKenna began promoting Beyond Differences through pageantry.

She is Miss Pre-teen Pennsylvania International 2018. “She’s been sharing things about anti-bullying and being kind to everybody, which caught the attention of the Beyond Differences,” said McKenna’s stepmother, Chelsea Ross. “They recently made her an official outreach partner for the program.”

Chelsea Ross said McKenna has always gone out of her way to seek out new students or those who appear isolated and make sure they have a friend with which to eat lunch or play.

“Girls can be mean and it’s definitely a growing issue with her age group,” Chelsea Ross said.

Chelsea Ross said she creates challenges for McKenna, encouraging her to see how many kids she can compliment or make smile each day.

On Friday, McKenna will screen a video educating her peers about social isolation, make morning announcements and staff a booth during lunchtime to encourage pledges by students to join her cause.

Chelsea Ross said the event will introduce student-led Beyond Differences curriculum that will be introduced next year.

McKenna will organize a leadership team with students, teachers and counselors to reinforce the program’s messages.

“For her, it’s about making everybody feel equal no matter what,” Chelsea Ross said. “She has a lot of friends and is what you might consider popular, but even she’s dealt with bullying. She wants to show that bullying has no preference. It happens to everyone.”

McKenna said she’s excited for Call It Out Day because she enjoys talking to people, making new friends and showing everyone they’re not alone.

“So many people have made fun of me, and I don’t want other people to feel that way,” McKenna said. “I want to show them that I’ve been through it and nobody’s perfect.”

A volunteer in school and her community, McKenna is an A student and is active in softball, basketball and dance.

McKenna is the daughter of Scottie Ross of Pittsburgh and Rebekah Ross of North Belle Vernon.

To follow her efforts, go to www.papageants.com/mckenna.html or www.facebook.com/preteenpaintl.

McKenna said Call It Out is important because many children are afraid or embarrassed to talk about the bullying they endure.

“This could change someone’s day and help many people,” she said. “Maybe they think the things people say about them are true, but nobody is ever something they don’t want to be.”

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