Jack Lydon, a McMahon Elementary School student, signs an anti-bullying pledge card with members of the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council last week. From left with Lydon are Maddy Laflamme, Katie Morin, Emma Wolverton, Emma Williams, Carolyn Adams, Hope Rubito, Damon DeWitt and Jordy Dushime. Submitted photo

LEWISTON — Home-school student Hope Rubito serves on the Lewiston Youth Advisory Council with other high school students.

Jack Lydon, a McMahon Elementary School student, stands with Lewiston Youth Advisory Council Chairwoman Emma Williams during the council’s anti-bullying event last week. Lydon was among the poster winners. Submitted photo

“I actually became home-schooled because of all the bullying,” she said following the culmination of the youth council’s anti-bullying initiative last week.

Rubito and the Youth Council have tackled the subject of bullying this year with a series of events, including a well-received effort at Lewiston High School to place positive messages on the locker of every student.

Rubito said when speaking recently with a young girl in elementary school who said she’s been bullied on the bus, she was reminded of what she went through.

“She said they say she smells and is fat,” Rubito said. “I immediately connected with this girl as I was bullied the same way in elementary school through high school.”

Last week, as a number of Youth Council members were readying to graduate, the council wrapped up the initiative for the year with an awards ceremony for its elementary school poster contest. Three students each from McMahon and Farwell elementary schools received awards, winning specially printed Youth Ccouncil T-shirts emblazoned with the message, “I’m a kind kid! I don’t bully!”

The winners and other students in the audience also signed pledge cards promising to be kind and not bully fellow students.

Rubito also shared her personal story with the audience, and said the overall response to the council’s effort has been “amazing.”

“There were many people that came up to me personally and asked for me to share my story about bullying in their classroom,” she said. “I think the rest of the council got the same reaction. There was a parent there thanking us for showing that kindness is cool, and the words us teens as a council are telling these younger kids is inspiring.”

Rubito said the poster winners were selected based on the look of the poster, but also on the message it portrayed about bullying.

She said winner Nick Williams created a poster with the fictional character Pikachu from Pokémon in two different lights — a bright and sunny light as well as a dark and rainy light.

“We felt this was an accurate depiction of what bullying does to a person and what a person feels when they aren’t being bullied,” she said.

Dot Perham-Whittier, the city’s community relations coordinator and Youth Council adviser, said the council wants to keep the initiative going, next time perhaps taking the message to classrooms at Lewiston Middle School.

“The Youth Council continues to thoughtfully decide what they want to address after much brainstorming and discussion,” she said. “They felt the anti-bullying outreach was very timely due to recent bullying incidents in the news nationwide. I’m very proud of them for stepping forward to advocate for kindness.”

The Advisory Council, founded in 2001, is a volunteer organization for high school students in Lewiston that often works to spread positive messages about the city and its youth.

Know someone with a deep well of unlimited public spirit? Someone who gives of their time to make their community a better place? Then nominate them for Kudos. Send their name and the place where they do their good deeds to reporter Andrew Rice at [email protected] and we’ll do the rest.

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