Students ‘Link Up’ to stop bullying in Forsyth County

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Students recognizing Unity Day and the national fight against bullying on Wednesday may turn area schools into a sea of orange.

The message will continue to spread this weekend, as people in Winston-Salem come together for Link Up to Stop Bullying. The event, which is free and open to public, kicks off with the second annual Walk Against Bullying. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

A partnership between Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's CareNet Counseling facilitates the event.

"It's not something that's just a kid issue," said Barbara Saulpaugh, Carenet Counseling's regional director who encourages the community to also think about adults and workplace bullying.

"About 3 million kids in America suffer from bullying," Saulpaugh said. "Locally, we're talking four busloads of children a day who don't want to go to school because of bullying."

Link Up to Stop Bullying comes as local students ramp up Rachel's Challenge for a second year. The anti-bully campaign is the namesake of Rachel Scott, the first victim from the Columbine High School shooting massacre. Her brother, Craig Scott, will be at Saturday's event to encourage the community to link up for kindness.

"These are the skills that will take a student through life," Kathy Jordan, program specialist with WSFCS, said of the campaign.

Students at Kernersville's Glenn High School know all about Rachel's story. They've taken on the challenge, and say it's raised awareness and created a positive environment on campus.

"I was bullied in middle school and then high school got here -- it was a little better," junior Kathleen Sawtelle said. "But after Rachel's Challenge, it was almost completely gone."

"We try to spread the word of making a change," added junior James Miranda. "I want to say making a change and saving a life is what I take it as."

"All of our young people believe they're going to make a difference, but for her to take it a step further to write about it... It's just kind of an eery and wonderful thing," principal Brad Craddock said of the personal component of Rachel's Challenge.

Students say they're hoping the community joins their pledge for kindness this weekend.

"There's many ways you can fix bullying, but I think the number one way you can fix it is by becoming aware of it. And a lot of people bully because they're ignorant," junior Joe Daccocha said.