- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

FAIRMONT, W.Va. (AP) - Morgan Breeden, Miss West Virginia 2016, spoke with East Fairmont Middle school girls Tuesday.

Breeden’s platform for the state pageant was anti-bullying. She has traveled around the state visiting schools to present her story.

Wearing her crown and sash, Breeden spoke to the assembly about her own experiences being bullied.

“When I was younger I went through a lot of bullying myself,” Breeden said. “They didn’t accept me for who I was. I was very overweight and they let me know that every day.”

She said she expected middle school to be rough, but that she didn’t expect to be treated terribly for her appearance.

After that, Breeden said that being bullied in high school was all that she could take.

“My mom tried to take me to school and I would not get out of the car. I missed 12 days of school because I was scared of the next (remark).”

Breeden participated in the Jefferson County Homebound Program after that.

EFMS students Savannah Asbury, Tysa James and Emma Sayers attended the presentation. Asbury said she had been bullied in the past. Sayers said a close friend of hers was bullied.

“I try to stand up to (bullies),” James stated. “It’s heartbreaking because you never know what (a victim is) going to go home and do.”

James said that because of Breeden’s presentation she wants to be more encouraging to others.

“I was surprised that she was bullied,” Asbury said.

Sayers said, “I thought it was very inspiring how she went through all of that.”

Breeden said she became confident when she started appreciating the person she was created to be.

“You cannot love anybody else until you love yourself,” she said.

She also said that bullies need just as much help as victims.

Breeden states that “(the bullies) need counseling and love and support just as much as the victim does.”

Danica Ryan, counselor to fifth- and sixth-grade students, planned the event because of the difficulty inherent in middle school.

Ryan said the girls know their personal values and are experimenting with what type of person they want to be. She stated that the presentation went better than she had expected.

Breeden said her greatest aspiration in life is to work with students as a clinical psychologist.

“(Presenting an) anti-bullying platform is something I want to do for my entire life,” Breeden stated.

Breeden is 22 and majoring in psychology at Shepherd University. She is from Jefferson County and has four sisters.

___

Information from: Times West Virginian, https://www.timeswv.com

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