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KARMA visits area schools

Talking to others about being bullied or about witnessing a bullying incident is the best way to prevent or stop the activity — and Jessica Brookshire is offering advice to students across Escambia County on how to make that happen.
The Escambia County School System invited Brookshire to visit students in the county to talk about the  K.A.R.M.A. (Kids Against Ridicule, Meanness and Aggression) program she founded to fight bullying.
Students in Pollard-McCall Junior High School heard from Brookshire Tuesday. In the presentation, she told students talking and reacting to bullying is the best way to keep the activity from happening or spreading.
“Your best resource is each other,” Brookshire said. “Remember to talk to someone about bullying whether you are being bullied or if you see it happen. The teachers and administrators are here for you to talk to about the problem. But, you can also talk to each other. Just remember to talk to someone about it.”
The program will be presented  Wednesday at 8 a.m. at W.S. Neal High School; at 10 a.m. at  W.S. Neal Middle School; and at 1 p.m. at W.S. Elementary School.
Hugh White, principal at Pollard-McCall, said the program was well received by the students.
“I think they now have a better understanding of what bullying really is,” White said. “This information has shown them how teasing can sometimes be bullying. This has given them a new perspective to think about when it comes to bullying.”
As a young girl, Brookshire was the victim of bullying, which started in the fourth grade and continued through her senior year in high school.
“I know the pain and fear that come from the words of another,” she said. “Words hurt, and they stay with you well into your adult years. The feeling of loneliness that a bully can install in unbearable. As a survivor of bullying, it is my duty to ensure that no child should ever have to endure that feeling. Our schools should offer a safe and positive learning environment for all students.”
Brookshire became involved in the Miss Alabama Organization in 2009 and K.A.R.M.A. became her platform community service project. She has since earned many praises for her work in this area, and was awarded the Catherine Crosby Community Service Award for 2010 and 2011 Alabama Pageants. She also won the coveted Miss America Community Service Award in 2011, and has been recognized by many organizations.
“The W.S. Neal School’s administration should be commended for taking the pro-active approach to end school-aged bullying,” Brookshire said. “They recognize the growing national trend in bullying and want to educate their students on the impact that bullying has on the victim, the aggressor, their families, friends and the school as a whole.”
Brookshire will also be visiting other schools in the county with opportunities for parents and the general public to hear the presentations.
Brookshire will be at the Brewton Area YMCA on Thursday, May 3, at 1:45 p.m and at One Body One Soul at First Presbyterian Church on Friday, May 4, at 6 p.m.