BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Tara Lynn Townes is on a mission and she’s determined it will result in changing a culture of bullying in this country.
Townes is the founder of a foundation called “Tiny Be Mighty,” which is inspired by the bullying. She says her own child has endured bullying since kindergarten.
“Our campaign is a 3-year campaign nationwide. We will hit every state in the United States and we want to go global. We will share our anti-bullying kids’ panel. We do fashion shows with beautifully diverse children.”
Beautifully diverse is the language she uses to describe people with physical and mental challenges.
Her son, 10-year-old Encore “Corey” Hunt, has dwarfism, which means his body doesn’t grow at the rate of other children his age.
Corey says he gets weird stares every day, even from adults, but the incident that stands out was from a child and it was cruel.
“He was yelling at me and pointing like that, ‘Ugly.' ‘Freak.’ ‘What is that?’ 'What even are you?’ And I was just sitting there like, 'What do I do?”
Townes says her first reaction to the bullying wasn’t very nice, but she decided to channel her frustrations into something constructive in hopes of helping children everywhere.
Children who bully she says, are not accustomed to diversity.
“This is the curriculum that I have. It’s an empathy-based curriculum that we want to get put into the schools because it addresses how beautiful diversity is. Once you are accustomed to it you won’t have to be afraid of it,” Townes said.
Townes says in traveling the country she’s found so many school systems don’t have any policies preventing bullying and procedures, so she’s offering hers.
On the “Tiny Be Mighty” website there are pictures of her and Corey meeting with lawmakers in an effort to eradicate bullying and hoping schools will adopt her curriculum that teaches empathy. She says it’s based on her 20 years of experience from her work in child development and work human behavior.
“Tiny Be Mighty” also has an advocacy component.
In West Alabama, the organization is backing the family of 9-year-old McKenzie Adams, which is asking police to reopen her case. The family claims McKenzie took her own life because she was being bullied at school.
“There is definitely documentation proving that she was bullied.. there were definitely things in her diary that were dated," Townes said.
Townes says it will be included in a documentary with stories of families around the nation, including the story of a 7-year-old in Ohio who took his own life.
“He was bullied in the bathroom caught on video. In Ohio. the kids were kicking him, he was knocked out. He goes home and his mom is cooking him dinner and he goes and takes his own life. Now he’s clinically depressed. no anyone who is getting beat up at school is going to have situational depression, situational anxiety,” she said.
Townes says the child who bullies is in turmoil and insecure, and picks on the target whom she calls the receiver to feel empowered. But there’s another part of this is who she calls the watcher.
“The watcher is someone who watches, but the bully doesn’t do anything to them. This is a very powerful person. You can stop it right there, but you don’t. But you are not being bullied. I’ve dedicated years now to research the three components.” she said.
Tara Lynn and Corey have a book where Prince Encore is the main character, handling a world of giants. He uses his brain power and empathy to win.
“There is such a need for it because it is not only the children being bullied , it’s the bully himself who needs help,” Townes said.
As for Corey, he wants people to know that he’s different and that’s OK.
To find out more about Tiny Be Mighty and now a partnership called “No Bullies on Our Team,” click here.