FORSYTH — An 8th grader is using her Miss Junior High Illinois crown to teach kids about bullying. Lydia Hubbard goes to schools around Central Illinois promoting bully-free classrooms. It’s part of her pageant platform.
The program is called BRAVE. It stands for Building Respect And Values for Everyone. Hubbard says she’s proud to spread the message. She says when most kids see her crown, they listen up.
“They see the crown and they’re, ‘Oh, she may have something important to say.'”
Hubbard won the crown last year. She’s having an impact on students from preschoolers to 5th grade.
“It’s not just teaching about bullying and how to stop bullying. It’s also teaching about how to be nice to others and how to respect others.”
That’s her approach with younger kids like these kindergartners. Their teacher says it doesn’t matter if they haven’t experienced it.
“By getting the message, it’s out early, it’s going to remind them of that importance to just kind of be aware of it before it gets out of hand or whatnot. When they’re young, they can be pretty impressionable, so you kind of want to get that anti-bullying kind of embedded in them.”
Before she was winning pageants, Hubbard remembers being bullied.
“I was bullied when I was little for having glasses and braces. I’ve seen bullying happen.”
Now she says she’d like to see it stop, even if it takes a crown to get kids to listen.
“I just wanted to help stop it and see that people can make a change, helping them with learning what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s just an overall wonderful feeling.”
Hubbard does about three visits per month, but she says she hopes to visit classrooms in Chicago and other cities around the state.