Leading the Charge
Lexi Openshaw, a 14-year-old eighth grader form Harpers Ferry made moves to end bullying, with an awareness walk though Shepherdstown last Friday night.
I really wanted to bring awareness to it so it could be put to a stop, Lexi said about her recent effort to end bullying in schools and online.
Diane Openshaw, Lexis mother explained that Lexi was inspired to take a page from history after studying about political movements in her West Virginia studies class.
Theyve always bonded together and marched or walked, Diane said of historic change-makers. atIts like everybody getting together and marching forward.
I see bullying happening a lot. Its happened to me, Lexi said.
Witnessing her younger brother, a third grader at Driswood Elementary, become a victim of bullying in school, was the straw that broke the camels back for Lexi.
I saw it happen to him and I know a whole lot of others kids get hurt like that, too, she said.
Lexi, who has spoken at elementary schools around the area, said that she believes that part of the problem with bullying is a lack of public knowledge regarding its scope and prevalence.
According to Lexi, 160,000 children stay home from school each day because of bullying.
I think its the number one problem facing kids my age, she said.
And in her experience, the problem is only confounded by a rise in cyber bullying, which she said affects six out of 10 kids.
Lexi, who is currently serving as Miss Outstanding Teem Jefferson County, said her platform slogan is Stop teen cyber bullying.
Lexi and her mom explained that she is in fact a recent victim of cyber bullying, when her name, photographs and other personal information were stolen from her Facebook account and used to create a fake profile on another popular social networking site.
The prank moved beyond garnering unflattering information about Lexi, and into what Lexis parents considered dangerous territory, when whoever created the fake profile began developing relationships with adult and teenage men online.
We were very upset and worried for her safety, Diane said.
Though the family has filed a police report regarding the incident, the investigation into who pranked Lexi remains ongoing.
Dressed in purple and accessorized with glows sticks, Lexi led nearly 150 walk participants down German Street Friday night, in her effort to bring attention to experiences like her own, and stop them once and for all.
As a result of Lexis efforts, Mayor Jim Auxer signed a proclamation last week calling for a stop to bullying and commending Lexi on her work.
Lexi and her mom both expressed their surprise and gratitude for the number of people who came to support the walk, many of whom neither Lexi nor Diana had ever met.
I really didnt expect that many people to come, Lexi said.
Lexi said she wanted to give a special thanks to Chick-fil-A, the Charles Town Sheetz, Hampton Inn and Suites, Royalicious Bagel Bakery, the Shepherdstown Food Lion and Martins grocery store, all of whom donated supplies for the walk.
Diane also expressed gratitude toward St Agnes Church and the Corporation of Shepherdstown for their assistance in making the walk possible.
The town of Shepherdstown was really gracious to say yes to it, she said.
Lexi said that she hopes to continue to promote her anti-bullying platform as she plans to hold a second walk in Charles Town this fall.
Lexi will go on to compete in the Miss Outstanding Teen state level pageant June 23.