By first appearances, this looks like a pep rally, but take a closer listen.
Former professional indoor football player Duane West wants his words to help children avoid the same pain he experienced as a child.
"It's personal because it's real and I never had a chance to cry as a child," West said. "But now I want to save so many children who don't have to be in a situation like I was in."
Standing in front of a group of summer campers, West says he tries to explain bullying to children on their level. He says too often children feel as if they have no voice and no options.
"I don't want any child to be tired," he said. "I want them to understand they have the fortitude to work through it, to dream big to see the goal."
For 8-year-old Bergen Heinemen, West's message hits close to home.
"It made me feel like I wasn't being liked or something," Bergen said. "I didn't like it, so I just walked away."
This is one of the reason why this is so important program is so important, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry almost half, half of all children will experience school bullying.
"When you bully someone, it really hurts their spirits and it's also sinning against God," said 9-year-old Virginia Zanella.
West has created several exercises for the children, to help them if they're in a bullying situation and don't know what to do.
"If I can live through it and go beyond that, then I can steer another child to help save another child's life, cause I thought about giving up at one point, my grandmother saved me," he said.
West continues to remind children they have the power, but when they feel powerless to get help.
"I just probably ignore them and walk away," Bergen said. "That's what I would do. My mom told me that."
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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