- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Haylee Beard had been bullied from kindergarten to middle school and soon found herself at a very low point in life.

“It was mainly name-calling,” the now 15-year-old student said. “I didn’t like it. I cried and would go to the guidance counselor weekly. I just kept it inside, and I cried a lot.”

Her stepmother, Marie Beard, said she began to notice changes in Haylee’s behavior as she isolated herself in her room, became depressed and shut down emotionally.

When she faked an asthma attack to leave school, Marie Beard knew something serious was going on.

“She said nothing was wrong and then one day when I asked, she ran out of the house crying,” she said. “I told her to cry, and she opened up about not having friend and being bullied. She asked me if there was a support group she could join.”

Marie Beard said she called agencies in town in search of a bullying support group, and at that time, none existed that dealt specifically with bullying.

“Haylee asked if we could start one, and I said we sure can,” she said.

Marie Beard went through all the legal networks to establish, “Haylee’s Hurt Helps,” in an effort to help not only her daughter, but give support to all children in the Clarksville-Montgomery County area who are victims of bullying.

Haylee’s Hurt Helps, officially established in October, is a non-profit organization that offers relief and safety to children who are being bullied mentally, physically or by cyber means. It offers parents advice and a place to turn to learn how to talk with their children openly about bullying, depression and suicidal thoughts.

The organization partners with other community organizations to offer bullied children an environment where they see that they are not alone, interact with other bullying victims and become a unit to stand together against bullying.

“It’s made me feel a lot better,” Haylee said. “I know I have somewhere to go. It’s a comfortable setting, and I’m more comfortable making friends.”

She said bullying has decreased, and she’s found a joy in life as she works side-by-side with her mother in Haylee’s Hurt Helps.

“Now she’s not afraid to talk to people,” Marie Beard said. “I’m so proud of her, and she works her butt off on everything for this organization.”

The organization meets monthly and engages in other youth activities, support groups and friendships. They also have a bully box where children can report bullies anonymously.

“I call the school and tell them the names of the bullies reported in the bully box,” Marie Beard said. “I was amazed that kids were excited about writing these names and schools down.”

They plan to implement field trips, movie nights and much more in the future. They are currently looking for a small room to meet in weekly.

Haylee’s Hurt also organizes fundraisers in the community.

“I really hope the next generation doesn’t have to deal with bullying,” she said. “Our goal is to make Montgomery County bully-free.”

To learn more: https://mariebeard83.wix.com/haylees-hurt-helps

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Information from: The Leaf-Chronicle, https://www.theleafchronicle.com


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