Update: Information provided by the Upper Grand District School Board has been added to this story.
A Guelph girl struggling with being bullied at school got a much-appreciated pick me up from some new friends on the weekend.
The 11-year-old Grade 6 student (she asked her name not be printed) has been going through a rough time due to an ongoing issue at school.
It got so bad, says her mom Amber Close, that her daughter had two trips to the emergency ward at Guelph General Hospital and was eventually given some in-patient medical attention for the mental health struggles she was dealing with as a result of the bullying.
“Mental, emotional, verbal abuse. Someone even spit in her face,” says Close. “Last Thursday she looked at me and said ‘I just want to be normal.’”
Coles was called to the school several times and asked for meetings several times.
“They told us ‘neither one is innocent … just avoid her …’” Close said of what she was told in early meetings with school officials.
The Upper Grand District School Board doesn't discuss individual students for privacy reasons.
Her daughter began to isolate in her room and stopped telling her mother about the incidents at school. She would find her pacing in her bedroom at 1:30 a.m. on a school day, anxious about the next day.
Two weeks ago her daughter had a breakdown and they ended up at Guelph General Hospital.
Frustrated, she took to Facebook:
“My once happy, loving and caring little girl now feels so broken and worthless. My heart is breaking for her and I wish I could take all this pain she is feeling away. I will make damn sure that her story and her voice is heard …” Close wrote.
That was followed by another incident where her daughter had an emotional breakdown in her classroom.
Members of the local Bad Bones Riding Club read about the tough time the youngster was having on a Facebook post and decided to lend a helping hand.
On Saturday several members of the club visited the family at their Guelph home, chatting and joking and delivering flowers, a “STOP BULLYING” t-shirt and a “Bad Bones” hat she proudly wore.
“I saw the mom’s terrible story on Facebook and thought ‘we should do something to help her out,’” said Bad Bones Riding Club founder and president Moe Weso.
“It’s a show of support. We wanted to bring a message of support for this young girl and also send out there to the adults. Where do these kids learn bullying behaviour? Most likely it’s the parents.”
Bad Bones are involved in a number of local charity initiatives. This was just another small way they could help out, Weso said.
“We wanted to not only make her feel safe, but we also wanted the parents to take some responsibility for how their kids behave.”
Weso said his own child was bullied at school once, so he knows what Close and her daughter are going through.
Close said she got little satisfaction from the school and school board, but as things progressed there has now been a return-to-school plan has been created and she hopes her daughter will feel comfortable enough to go back to her class when school resumes.
“She likes school, that’s the sad part. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up.”