Ed-Co sophomore Hunter Paxson has a thing or two to say about bullying, and he expects to be saying it soon to an influential audience from across the state.
Paxson lives with Asperger’s Syndrome but is not letting that stop him from having his voice heard.
After posting on Facebook that he had been bullied and wasn’t going to take it anymore, Paxson and others formed FAB (Friends Against Bullying), a student group which has grown to 45 members.
They meet monthly and have plans for upcoming fundraisers. According to Pam Ostwinkle, a special education teacher at Ed-Co and group advisor, the idea is to get students to stand up for each other and not be afraid to speak out.
“Our club doesn’t demonize or alienate the bully, but encourages them to join and figure out why they are doing what they are doing and change their behavior,” said Ostwinkle.
Ostwinkle said that Paxson’s mother recently got a call from the Governor’s office, saying Gov. Terry Branstad has been following Hunter’s story. Hunter, along with his mother, Ostwinkle and a few other students were invited to go to Des Moines to talk to the legislature.
“(Branstad) talked about using Ed-Co’s program to be like a pilot program for the state,” said Ostwinkle. “His plan requires all schools to have an anti-bullying program.”
While no date for the trip has been finalized, Paxson is more than ready to carry his message to the capitol. “I’m hoping to tell Gov. Branstad that what he’s doing for bully prevention is really great, and that I’m proud of what he’s doing,” said Paxson.