McMinn County students "speak up" against bullying
The McMinn County Commission has announced October, 2 as Speak Up Club Day. Its an anti bullying program that started at McMinn County High School four years ago.
On Wednesday the group rallied all students across the county to "speak up!"
The club is quickly growing. Club president, Sabrina Childress says the group went from eight to 60 in one year. This is personal to her, like other students in the group Childress is a victim of bullying.
"I was left out, no one to sit with a lunch, the locker room was just a terror to walk into," Childress explains.
The group rallied students with the help of country music artist Matt Kennon. His song "You had to Pick on Me" sends a clear anti bullying message.
"We can't stop bullying. I can't, you can't but these kids can be there for one another so it has to come from within," says Kennon.
"I've actually had people come up to me and say can you help me because they know I'm in this club," student James Baker says.
First time club members knew it was time to speak up. "I personally have never been bullied but if you can reach out any way you can," says Kyla Royal.
"Now I actually feel like I'm part of a team," Will Belcher says.
"For us to expect students to behave and to perform at their best, academically, they have got to feel safe, secure, happy. They've got to look forward and love coming to school," teacher and founder of the Speak Up Club, Heidi Ables says.
The Speak Up Club has grown to incorporate high schools throughout McMinn County as well as Meigs County and Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens.