Acts of Kindness
Heartbroken mom posts plea for son not knowing hundreds of high schoolers would step in
“No one helped me when I was in that situation,” said an eighth-grader. “So I wanted to be there for him.”
D.G. Sciortino
06.09.22

When Brody Ridder started the school year he didn’t have many friends.

But now that it’s almost over, he has a ton, including celebrities like Paul Rudd.

These people are dedicated to making sure that kindness continues to thrive in this world. The 12-year-old sixth-grader got all these new friends after his mom posted on Facebook about how he got very few signatures in his yearbook.

Brody, who changed schools before fifth grade to increase his academic support, has been the target of consistent bullying including physical and emotional abuse.

While the bullying lessened after his mom, Cassandra Cooper Ridder, reached out to the school administration, there was still some teasing.

Many of his fellow classmates outright refused to sign the boy’s yearbook. So, he ended up writing his own message in his yearbook saying, “Hope you make some more friends.”

This broke his mother’s heart. So, she spoke out about it on a Facebook group for parents in the school district.

“I knew he would be completely okay with it,” she told The Washington Post. “Brody has always told me he wants to be part of the solution.”

Cassandra said her goal was to encourage parents to talk about bullying with their children. We’ve all seen the negative consequences of bullying play out whether on an individual level or in acts of mass violence.

But talking to your children about bullying is not only important for children who are bullied, but for those that are doing the bullying.

“As hard as it may be to hear this news, it’s important to deal with it right away. Whether the bullying is physical or verbal, if it’s not stopped it can lead to more aggressive antisocial behavior and interfere with your child’s success in school and ability to form and keep friendships,” KidsHealth explains.

While some students bully others because they feel insecure or bully as a part of defiant or aggressive behavior and don’t understand how to manage their feelings, other children do so because it’s a coping behavior for what goes on at home.

So, talking to your kids about bullying may also require you to take a look at yourself and your household.

After all, children and students aren’t the only ones who are bullied. Bullying can take place in the workplace and in social circles. Perhaps if we break the cycle with our children, even adults can allow themselves to live in a kinder work.

After learning about Cassandra’s post, upperclassmen from the Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster, Colorado decided they weren’t going to let Brody feel alone.

Joanna Cooper, an 11th grader immediately vowed to get her friends to sign Brody’s yearbook.

“That people would tell him no and deny him a signature, it just hurt my heart,” she said.

“When I was younger, I was bullied a lot like him,” said junior Simone Lightfoot. “If I could do one little thing to help this kid feel a little better, I’d be more than willing to.

“No one helped me when I was in that situation,” said eighth-grader Maya Gregory said. “So I wanted to be there for him.”

Not only did these students fill Brody’s yearbook with more than 100 signatures the day after yearbooks were handed out, but they also gave him their phone numbers, a gift bag, and messages of support.

“Just seeing him light up, it felt really good,” said Cassandra.

Cassandra said she hopes to start an initiative to spearhead a schoolwide yearbook signing initiative so that other children don’t have to go through what her son did. She’s also happy that everyone’s efforts to be kind to her son set a positive example for his classmates who were unkind to him.

After seeing some of the upperclassmen sign his yearbook, some of Brody’s classmates ended up signing too.

They also decided to get to know him a little bit better asking him about his hobbies including chess and fencing.

“It made me feel like I was not alone,” Brody said

But the wave of kindness didn’t stop there. Celebrities including actor Paul Rudd and the cast of Dear Evan Hansen all reached out to wish Brody well.

And it seems like he’ll be doing just fine knowing he’s not alone and has friends to lean on.

Administrators said that transitioning back to in-person learning after the pandemic has created more conflicts and bullying, and that the district is collectively working on methods to support the children and community.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

By D.G. Sciortino
hi@sbly.com
D.G. is a contributing writer in Shareably. She's based in Connecticut and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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