By: Samantha Leader
Everywhere in the world you will hear about someone being bullied. It has no age or gender limits and it affects everyone. It has become an epidemic and there is one local young lady finding ways to help others. Justine Hutchins was one of those bullied, and realized that more needed to be done to help girls who are going through what she went through.
Justine Hutchins, 25, started a group Girl Empowered Talk, January 2017 after many months of planning. In January, she set a schedule for the program and decided where she would hold it.
“I decided to do my first one in Boonville because I am from there and had connections there from girl scouts, schools, different organizations, etc.,” Justine said.
On April 13th she started advertising for her first event, mostly through social media, fliers and word of mouth. She met with the Guidance Counselor at the local school which helped put fliers around the school for parents and kids to see.
The first program was held in a yoga studio. The studio did all they could to help her get the name out there also such as hand out fliers and tell customers. The first one was on the weekend of May 19th & May 20th with a total of 8 kids.
“The age group that seemed to be the most popular was a 9-11-year-old group and a 14-18-year-old group, going forward I would like my range to focus more on 12-18 year olds,” Justine said. Her programs have three sections, first talking about female bullying/friend groups, the second focusing on cyber bullying/social media, and the third is a strategies workshop. Justine played the role of a facilitator, directing the conversation while the girls talked out loud to each other, expressing their feelings. “We talked about depression and anxiety a lot, ways to cope with these things and where to go to get help and resources,” Justine said.
After the first program was completed, Justine did a feedback section and many of the kids said they wanted to learn more about yoga and meditation, especially because it was held in the yoga studio.
Justine decided to become a certified yoga teacher and enrolled in the teacher-training program which started in June and ends in November. This will let her be able to teach the kids about mediation and yoga while holding these programs, Justine stated.
“I have started planning another program in the Syracuse area but I will be putting it on hold now until I become certified in November and can incorporate that into my advertising and programs,” Justine said.
This idea all originated from Justine’s personal life and what she went through when she was younger and then again, in college. Being bullied herself and not knowing how to use her voice and where to go for help made her want to help other kids who may feel the same way.
“I work at Little Luke’s now as a full time occupational therapist, and I believe my major also helped me become knowledgeable in all of these areas by the certain classes we had to take,” Justine said.
After all the success in her first program, Justine’s goal is to keep expanding to different areas and schools, getting her name out there. Her long-term goals would be to have her name known and hold fundraisers, big events about preventing bullying.