The Great American NO BULL Challenge
National Spokesperson at The Great American NO BULL Challenge
Abstract: Millions of students around the world talk about the problems they face as a teen. Many suffer from bullying, depression, suicidal thoughts and sometimes never know how to deal with these issues. Some teens use social networks to anonymously torment other teens, while other teens are tormenting the people who are different such as disabled students, weaker students, socially isolated students, and un-athletic students. With technology increasing, the popularity of middle school and high school students doing this is also changing. While some students are doing the tormenting, other students are taking a stand and making a difference. What can you do to make a difference? The Great American NO BULL Challenge inspires millions of teens each year to take a stand against this behavior in their community and around the globe. NO BULL is a social action non-profit organization that offers youth the opportunity to promote digital responsibility, leadership and social change using creativity, the power of peer-to-peer education, and the magic of filmmaking by creating short films or Public Service Announcements. NO BULL’s Teen Video Awards celebrates and promotes all those involved who brave the Challenge and stand up for change for the most important issues of our time.
Keywords: Bullying, Leadership, digital-responsibility, filmmaking, inspire, video contest, bullying prevention.
Looking into Bullying
Bullying is quite an issue that makes thousands of teens each day stay home from school and one out of every four students experience some type of bullying. Where do you stand when bullying is happening? Being a bully can cause lasting effects on your life if the person you bully decides to take their own life and/or struggles throughout their adolescents because of the torment they endured. Suicide is becoming more common as bullying continues around the world. The actions some teens might take could even stop them from getting a job in the future. Most companies and businesses do background checks of their potential employees to see how they behave on social media or if they’ve been a bully. Companies don’t want to hire someone who has a negative reputation online.
In many countries, law enforcement is starting to become more strict about cyberbullying and students (as well as their parents) are being held legally liable for their behavior. Bystanders, who sit back and watch the bullying happen, are sometimes just as bad as the bully because they have the choice to lend a hand to the target, but instead choose not to. You may be wondering how The Great American NO BULL Challenge came about? On the first day of her Senior year of High School, Nicole Edgington, associate student body secretary, was excessively cyberbullied when she was wrongly accused of being the person who “turned in” 30 seniors who came to the first day of school intoxicated. Nicole started receiving hundreds of death threats through Facebook, texting, and even received phone calls. She lost her outgoing personality that so many people were used to seeing, as well as her motivation to be a leader to her peers. Not only did this affect young Edgington, but it also affected her mother, Shawn Edgington, who was constantly worried for her daughter as any mother would be. Together they decided to make a difference and help teens just like Nicole, prevent something like this from happening again. In order to have peace in our world, turning bullies, victims, and bystanders into up-standers using video to tell and share stories of today’s youth, is the goal of The Great American NO BULL Challenge.
Experience The Challenge!
In an attempt to make sure that no one would ever go through what Nicole went through, Shawn Edgington, set out to alleviate all forms of bullying and promote digital responsibility and founded the Great American NO BULL Challenge. Millions of teens around the globe are inspired and have taken the Challenge by submitting a video into the annual contest. With the power of music and film making, NO BULL offers a global video contest that promotes teen social action and leadership. Ages 13-18 are eligible to take on NO BULL’s Challenge. Whether you make a Public Service Announcement (30-60 seconds long) or a short film (2-5 minutes long) by yourself or with a team, teens like you are making a difference that will last for years to come. Not a video expert? Not a problem! All you need is a camera, software to edit the film, and a powerful message to have the perfect NO BULL submission! Video uploads begin on December 13th, 2013 and the deadline to submit your video is April 30, 2014. Your video will go into public voting where you rally friends, school, community, and family to vote for your film. You’ll need to be in the top 50 in order to move on to the next round, which is when the celebrity judging takes place. Fifteen lucky filmmakers will be chosen, becoming the 2014 NO BULL Nominees. Nominees win an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles, California, to celebrate at the NO BULL Conference and Teen Video Awards where students from all over walk the red carpet, meet their favorite stars, and experience performances from their favorite artists! Eight “Noble” Award winners will be announced live at the event! Prizes include: laptops, cameras, scholarships, tickets to the Sun Dance Film festival, and much more! Past winners have won VIP tickets to the Teen Choice Awards, a $10,000 production deals, and a mentorship with movie director, Lee Hirsh. The Great American NO BULL Challenge is an experience of a lifetime you won’t want to miss! So, get your friends together, cameras ready and script written now – and get ready for the journey you will never forget.
My NO BULL Journey
Getting involved in the Great American NO BULL Challenge was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Growing up in a small town, attending a small school, and being a normal high school athlete, my friend and I quickly became globally known as “The NO BULL Guys” (thenobullguys.com), and this is my story: 3.2 Million. That is the number of students who are victims of bullying every year. If you saw someone being bullied, would you take a stand to stop it? If you were to ask me that question three years ago, I would’ve said absolutely not. If you ask me that question today, I would say without a doubt, YES!!!. Sept. 18, 2011, a young boy named Jamey took his own life because of bullying; this tragic event lit a spark inside of me to do everything in my power to alleviate this epidemic. I teamed up with my friend, Tyler Gregory and embarked on one of the most incredible, rewarding, and inspiring journey I could have ever imagined.
At the age of 16, I was never one to speak my opinion, I would always just observe. Observe people’s actions, reactions, and behaviors. When I heard about Jamey’s suicide, I realized maybe it was time to stop observing and time to start acting. Using all the observations that I gathered over the years, we started a kindness movement in our school. We wanted teens to use their words to build each other up, instead of tearing each other down. We did this by having students write anonymous compliments about other students and we put them on display for the whole school to see, which turned out a big success. Shortly after we started this movement, we heard about The Great American NO BULL Challenge. Little did we know that this discovery would change our lives forever.
The NO BULL Challenge is an anti-bullying/digital responsibility video contest. We thought that making a video would be an awesome way to stand up to bullying. We were not putting ourselves in danger by actually standing up to a bully, but we were making a video and letting our peers take away what they would from our creation. After getting together with 50 students, we filmed and put together an inspirational video with an original song. After we finished filming and editing, we did an assembly for our school, premiering our video, and the response was mind blowing! We had victims coming up to us with tears in their eyes, bullies confessing that they were sick to their stomach because of the guilt they felt, and bystanders telling us they were ready to take action.
Shortly after the premier of our video at our assembly, other schools started contacting us asking us to hold our assembly at their school. All while this was happening, we found out that our video made it as a finalist for The NO BULL Challenge out of 270 videos that were submitted (over 15,000 students participated), which meant we would get to fly to San Francisco to attend NO BULL’s Teen Video Awards. At the awards show, we walked the red carpet, met some of our favorite artists, and we won The Shining Star Award for our hard work and dedication to standing up to bullying at other schools, within the media, both social and on-the-air.
Shortly after getting back from California, we were invited to represent National 4-H at the 2012 Federal Partners in Bullying Summit in Washington D.C., which led us to being asked to be National Spokespeople for The Great American NO BULL Challenge. This was a dream come true because we could continue to go around to schools and organizations to speak and inspire other students to follow in our footsteps AND help the non-profit organization that made our work possible and is fighting for such an important teen related cause.
Before we knew it, we were traveling all over the United States speaking at schools and conferences inspiring teens to take a stand. We have spoken to over 25,000 teens in the past year and have helped start NO BULL Clubs in schools. NO BULL has truly impacted us to become action-based leaders that students would look up to. I have become a lot more confident, out-going, and more aware about life since I joined NO BULL. Right when we thought we were on top of the world changing lives, we were featured on The Today Show to share our journey with their 5 million viewers. It was an amazing feeling, being able to share our story in front of millions of people. We have also been able to work on anti-bullying initiatives with Cartoon Network, the government, and national organizations. What started as a small project in our school, evolved into something that is much bigger than us… something that was getting national attention and had no intent of slowing down. This is when I realized that one person really can make a BIG difference.
Being spokespeople for NO BULL, we were able to help plan the 2013 Teen Video Awards and the 2014 NO BULL Challenge. The 2013 NO BULL Teen Video Awards was fantastic! This year it was held in Los Angeles, California with huge celebrities from Pretty Little Liars, Glee, and Disney Channel attending to celebrate with the top 15 nominees, students from all over the country and from NO BULL’s coalition of non-profit partners who were ready to make a difference back in their communities.
The first time that Tyler and I heard someone tell us that if it weren’t for us coming to speak at their school, they wouldn’t be alive today was the moment that we realized that this is where our passions were. We both go to college three days a week and on our two days off, we continue to travel the globe speaking and inspiring teens to stand up, make a difference and make videos for The NO BULL Challenge. NO BULL has not only changed thousands of lives, but it has changed ours forever. Today, at 19 years of age, I am continuing my adventure. We were even offered a spot as actors on a feature film in Hollywood focused on bullying and a book deal. I’m hoping to continue my dream of being an actor, but I plan to one day be a public relations specialist and continue to work with non-profits to promote important causes. I never would have taken these steps in my life if I ignored NO BULL’s Challenge.
The Great American NO BULL Challenge called the NO BULL Academy offers free classroom presentations on their website using the teen created nominated videos, available to anyone, anywhere at no cost. For more information about the Great American NO BULL Challenge, and to submit your videos, visit: nobullchallenge.org!
Bullying is becoming an epidemic in today’s society and we encourage everyone to take the NO BULL Pledge by taking the Challenge. Get your school together to make an original and inspirational NO BULL video. Take a look at the last two years of winners to get some ideas. The NO BULL Challenge has changed not just my life, but numerous teen lives and it has opened many doors of success for many of the nominated filmmakers who submitted their work. Are you ready to take on the Challenge? Get inspired and be the change in your community… YOU could be the next 2014 NO BULL winner… placing you on a journey that could change your life forever!