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Lake Middle School recognizes Unity Day with speaker, author

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Anyone can be bullied. 

However, not everyone will be a victim of bullying. 

Tom Thelen, author and motivational speaker, shared the message of how to be “Victimproof” during two presentations at Lake Middle School on Oct. 21, which is national Unity Day. 

“Bullying may happen to you,” Thelen said, “but you can refuse to be a victim.” 

Unity Day, which is part of National Bullying Prevention Month, encourages students to unite together against bullying while uniting for kindness, acceptance and inclusion. 

Students were encouraged to wear orange to show their unity. 

Being ‘Victimproof’ 

During last week’s presentations, Thelen discussed his book “Victimproof,” which details his life growing up being bullied. 

“I was small and scrawny and awkward,” he said. “I was the kid who was an easy target. 

“What better kid to take power from than the kid who already feels powerless?” 

Thelen’s experiences with being bullied resulted in him hiding what was really happening under the guise of the “class clown.” 

“I didn’t want anyone to know that my life wasn’t perfect,” he said. 

Thelen discussed with students how it’s important to not let the bullies have power over them, such as influencing their character. 

“If you cover up the hurt,” he said, “you’re going to wind up with a weak character.” 

Also, Thelen told students that in order to be “victimproof,” not only do they have to not let the bullies take power over them but they also have to give up the desire for revenge. 

“A bully might try to take power from you,” Thelen said, “but you don’t have to give it to them; you deserve a life free of that pain.” 

Thelen’s message aimed to help students build self-esteem, develop resiliency and establish a culture of kindness at their school.

At the end of Thelen’s presentation he challenged all students to “Be the Change” at their school. 

“Your school may never be bully proof,” he said, “but it can be victimproof.”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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