Saturday, September 3, 2016

Cruelty, inaction, and a pro-active project for change

An outstanding college student and musician, Tyler Clementi had just begun to open up to loved ones about being gay. Then his roommate at Rutgers captured an intimate video of him on a computer's webcam and shared it online. Others who saw the video didn't report this cyber-bullying, and Tyler became a target of ridicule. When he learned of this invasion of privacy and the rampant hate-speech against him, Tyler jumped off the George Washington Bridge.  

Like the rest of Tyler's home community, 10th-grader Christopher Rim was devastated by the news of Tyler's suicide. But Christopher didn't want to just sit back and be sad; he decided to act. He formed It Ends Today, a group of 18 students from his high school who traveled to different middle schools and high schools to educate teens about the importance of bystander intervention and the dangers of cyber-bullying.

The project grew and attracted the attention of celebrities including Lady GaGa and her Born This Way Foundation. Within a few years, It Ends Today operated 26 chapters in six countries with over 350 volunteers.

When Christopher went to Yale, he connected with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. They paired with Facebook and created InspirED, "a portal where educators, community leaders, young people, parents, and government officials can connect to positively impact school climates and the overall well-being of teens in the U.S."

Christopher's original project has expanded to now reach tens of thousands of people every year.

All because one teen decided to act.

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