You’re never too young to unleash your entrepreneurial spirit and follow your passions, turning experience into enterprise.
Jessica Bialan has found such inspiration; at just 15 and currently studying for her GCSE’s, she has launched an anti-bullying charity to support young people deal with this difficult issue.
Born out of her own harrowing experience of a two-year campaign of bullying, Jessica knows exactly what it’s like to be the target of a hate crusade. But, she has turned this experience and her budding flair for business into a win-win combination; by filling a gap of much needed support for young people going through similar ordeals.
“I attended an NBWN women’s conference last year and there was a panel of women who’d experienced bullying yet had gone on to set up their own businesses. They really inspired me.”
And so Forum Against Bullying (FAB) was conceived. Jessica explains:
“Research says most young people are more confident about speaking to another young person about being bullied. So a major part of FAB is an online Forum created for young people to talk and share their experiences, and realise they are not alone. A big issue for me was the isolation I felt, which made the whole thing more difficult.
“Through FAB, we want to reach the 99% of young people who don’t know how to, or would never openly contact official organisations like Childline and Samaritans about their experience. Young people can get and advice and be encouraged to take action; I believe getting to young people at these early stages can stop bullying escalating in the majority of cases.”
Some sobering statistics on bullying highlights the necessity for a Forum like FAB: Almost half of all young people have been bullied at school; over a third of young people are affected by cyber-bullying, and more than 20 young people each year commit suicide because they were bullied. A staggering 20,000 young people miss school every day because they are bullied, significantly decreasing their opportunities in education and employment.
So, there is work to be done. FAB’s appeal is that it targets young people directly and is created by young people, while the majority of other anti-bullying initiatives are aimed at parents and teachers. In addition to the Forum, FAB provides much needed information and advice to empower young people and their support networks. The overall goal is to significantly raise awareness and inspire young people and wider society to actively take a stand against bullying through focused activities.
It’s no easy task balancing school work with a business, particularly when your long-term goal is to become a doctor, but Jessica is highly motivated. With the help and encouragement from her dad, she works on FAB at evenings and weekends. She has also enrolled a number of friends who have offered their support as volunteers on the Forum.
“There are so many young people out there experiencing terrible things and there is something I can do to help,” says Jessica. “I want to look back on my life and see that I’ve made a contribution to mankind.”
While FAB seeks to engage young people, there is a range of support for parents too; information, advice and signposting to organisations than can help further. To sign up to FAB’s newsletter and regular updates email: [email protected]
FAB: www.forumagainstbullying.org launches in April 2013
Author: Suzanne Simmons-Lewis