LEROY WASHINGTON, DAUGHTER CO-FOUND NATL. ANTI-BULLYING PROJECT TO CHANGE, SAVE LIVES

Members of the Anti-Bully Crusader Project at Flint Northwestern High School. (Exec. Director Lauren Washington at center.)

INTERVIEW WITH LEROY WASHINGTON, CO-FOUNDER ABC PROJECT

Project founded by 23-year MDOC prisoner and daughter goes national, wants to make all schools “Bully-Free Safe Zones”

GOAL: to make all schools “Bully-Free Safe Zones”

VOD staff writer Ricardo Ferrell

2 out of 9 teens who commit suicide do so as a result of “bullying”

By Ricardo Ferrell

July 5, 2019

LeRoy Washington, an inmate within the Michigan Department of Corrections, has spent the last 23 years of his life behind bars. His time served has not been wasted.

LeRoy has been involved in the field of personal development for over two decades. Since his incarceration he has earned a MBA in Business Administration-Management from California Coast University’s Distant Learning Program and is currently working on a Doctorate’s in Education. Upon completion he will become the first MDOC inmate to earn such honors from an accredited school while incarcerated.

Leroy Washington, co-founder of Anti-Bullying Project

As an aspiring author, cutting-edge teacher, mentor, motivational speaker, and peace advocate, he spreads his energy-filled message of power, potential, and positive change in prisons to younger inmates and vicariously through others to schools, youth centers, churches, and nonprofit organizations.

In his personal and professional pursuit of coaching and developing young people, he has created an unique approach to address one of the most pressing and fundamental issues involving young people today –Bullying.

In a program he calls the Anti-Bullying Crusaders Project (ABC), LeRoy dynamically and effortlessly imparts the most thought-provoking and profound truths of the human bullying experience. Prepare to be inspired, entertained, transformed by this close encounter interview:

Q & A: with VOD reporter Ricardo Ferrell and ABC Co-founder LeRoy Washington.

Q – RICARDO: WHAT IS THE ANTI-BULLYING CRUSADERS PROJECT?

A- LeRoy: The Anti-Bullying Crusaders (ABC) Project is a social movement that takes a realistic approach towards the growing epidemic of bullying in America. Our goal is to eradicate bullying and to start by making all our learning institutions “Bully Free Safe Zones.”

Q – RICARDO: HOW DO YOU DO IT?

Lauren Washington,, Exec. Director Anti-Bullying Crusaders Project

A – LeRoy: ABC has created an effective model and mechanism for teaching and learning. Our hope is to provide educational opportunities and support systems that enhance the future and impact the lives of our young people. Our therapeutic self-help course provides participants with instructions on how to curtail intimidation, crush cruelty, and reduce violence. This groundbreaking interactive program equips young people with the personal life skills and tools necessary to develop positive thinking, attitude, and behavior toward peace, acceptance and tolerance.

Q – RICARDO: WHAT INSPIRED THE ABC INITIATIVE?

A – LeRoy: It was actually my daughter’s idea. During her freshman year she was working on a research paper and came across some startling information about bully related suicides. Did you know according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) that upwards of 4,400 teenagers commit suicide annually and 2 out of 9 as a result of an act of bullying? The statistics are startling, she said.

“Dad, acts of violence and cruelty among my peers are at an all time high. We gotta do something!”

I didn’t know what to do! But she was determined and reminded me of a value I imparted upon her before she went off to college. “Dad, don’t you remember what you said to me? Each of us has a moral obligation to make the world a little bit better than we inherited it for the next generation…. When we live life righteously we not only increase the quality of our own lives, but the value of life increases for everyone we encounter.”

So I asked her, “What you want to do?” Back then I was working in a program mentoring youth offenders and HYTA’s (Holmes Youthful Training Act) prisoners in Lapeer at the Thumb Correctional Facility. She suggested that I bundle my experiences into a curriculum and she and her fellow students would create a platform to reach the masses. Thus ABC was founded (http://www.antibullyingcrusaders.org.) The rest is history.

Being incarcerated, the MDOC won’t let me be a major part of ABC or anything positive in the real world. So, I just write corrective curriculums and provide a little advice here and there. Of course, all free of charge. This is my way of giving back, somewhat of a partial repayment to society.

Q – RICARDO: WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT WHAT ABC DOES FROM OTHER ANTI-BULLYING ORGANIZATIONS?

A- LeRoy: We owe that opportunity to many of the Michigan Community Leaders. In Flint, Michigan, Principal Kelly Fields and Tracey Fountain of DHHS had a group of young men and women whom they thought would benefit from participating in the anti-bullying workshop. Ms. Fountain reached out to ABC. Tracy Palmer of Trendsetters did a wonderful job of training the facilitators, teaching and overseeing the sessions.

In Detroit, Michigan, we worked with a dynamic young man Shawn T. Blanchard and his brother Doug Little to host a seminar at the Martin Luther King High School. In Pontiac, Michigan, we worked with Sandra Rolle, the founder of Great Lakes Charter School.

In Detroit, Michigan, we worked with a dynamic young man Shawn T. Blanchard and his brother Doug Little to host a seminar at the Martin Luther King High School. In Pontiac, Michigan, we worked with Sandra Rolle, the founder of Great Lakes Charter School.

I have to thank the ABC staff. None of this would have been possible without you. I didn’t know educating is so expensive. Someone has to absorb the cost. After some creative fundraising by the ABC girls they were able to provide these opportunities to Michigan schools. This up and coming year we hope to expand our base to Michigan full time. This effort will be spearheaded by a Lansing Public School Teacher Patricia Reed and her group out of Lansing.

Q – RICARDO: WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART OF THE PROGRAM AND PROCESS FOR YOU?

A – LeRoy: I am not going to lie to you big brah. Being in prison you know I get a kick out of working with beautiful educated diverse women, LOL. Working with all these dynamic women was a fringe benefit and has been both educating and validating. I learned so much. Each of them are unique and phenomenal. They all bring something to the table and have a great passion to do their part to help change and save young people lives. But I guess the most rewarding part has been in seeing my work in action, helping others.

Getting bullied is not always an easy conversation for a child or young adult to have with a parent, teacher, or person of authority. Sometimes it takes an expert to shed light on the subject. Over the years, what I’ve learned is that once we are able to break down the walls and build trust, the magic of transformation begins. You’d be amazed at what you see when you get an objective glimpse of the world from their (young participants’) perspectives. When I read their journal entries…their expressions are a cry and plea for help. Many of our young people are saying, “I want to be different, I want to change, but I don’t know how!” Its our job to give them the tools and teach them HOW! Its no better feeling knowing that you have impacted the lives of our young people in a positive way.

Q – RICARDO: WHAT’S COMING IN THE FUTURE FOR YOU AND ABC?

Tracy Palmer of Trendsetters (r) facilitates ABC graduation.

A – LeRoy: My immediate personal goals are to finish up my schooling. I’m looking forward to earning my Ph.D. I’m also working on a biography, another corrective behavior curriculum, publishing my children’s nursery rhyme book, and helping scale ABC nationally… all that on top of my responsibility of teaching in here. Yeah, my plate is full, but I’ve always been taught that “Where more is given, more is expected in return.” So, I’m grateful to God for all that I have been blessed with, including the responsibilities that I’ve been entrusted with.

As far as ABC goes. . . .Our aim is to challenge people to change for the better by giving them tools and resources to do so and to create bully free safe zones in all schools. No child should have to go to school and be bullied. This culture has to change and it’s up to us (the people) to change it.

Dr. Pepper Arena in Dallas, Texas

ABC’s next big project is the “Bullying Stops Here!” with a fundraising rally during the National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month of October in Dallas, Texas.

This year we are hosting a free Anti-Bullying Seminar and Celebrity Basketball Game at the Dr. Pepper Arena. Our goal this year is to raise $2 million to reach and teach 10,000 students during the 2020 school year. So, we are calling on all individuals, corporations, small businesses, schools, religious organizations, and other nonprofits to support this effort. What could be a better cause than saving the lives of our young people?

Q – RICARDO: ONE LAST QUESTION AND THIS ONE IS FOR ME… WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?

A – LeRoy: Interesting. I just finished a book by the phenomenal young man I mentioned earlier: “HOW ‘BOUT THAT FOR A ‘CRACK BABY’ KEYS TO MENTORSHIP AND SUCCESS” by Shawn T. Blanchard. His humble beginnings depict a similar story faced by so many of our urban city youth. Many of us are born into or live in an environment of poverty, drugs, thieves, violence, death, loneliness, and a lack of guidance. In spite of all this he chose to rise above his conditions and circumstances. He chose success.

And beyond that he has used his education and experiences to create a platform to do what I aspire to do…save the lives of our youth. After reading his book, I have that much more admiration for him as a young black man who has chosen to empower himself as well as others. While I have worked with him and vicariously through him I’ve never met him personally. I look forward to that day…just to say thank you young man for your works and for being a great example to our youth.

RICARDO’s FINAL NOTES: Thanks for chopping it up with VOD. Man you been busy! Congrats on all your accomplishments. We like what you are doing in the community, keep up the good work and we wish you and ABC much success with the program. i’d like to get an interview with your daughter. Can you hook me up? And last but not least, would you care to leave us with one last wise thought?

ABC student and facilitator

LeRoy’s response: All Praises be to God! Through Him all things are possible. Thanks to you and Voice of Detroit for having me. Of course I can hook you up with that interview. It would be my pleasure and an honor. I’ll leave you with this, “Our parenting is literally a fight for the lives of our children. It is a noble fight that must be fought hard and relentlessly. It’s not always easy, but when you can touch the lives of a few in a positive way, it is so rewarding. If we can help a few of these young people realize their potential and give them the tools to become change agents, we would have made a difference. Prevention is the way, because damage control is far more costly.”

Ricardo: There you heard it from the man himself. The ABC project is an evolving set of projects that provide educational opportunities and creative strategies that curtail intimidation, crush cruelty, and help to reduce violence. The program demonstrates the potential for dynamic collaborations between students, facilitators, and other prominent figures of the community. Most importantly, through this unique exchange, the ABC Project seeks to deepen the dialogue – transform ways of thinking about being a bully, victim, or witness in society as a whole. ABC needs our support!!

For more information about how you can support, donate, become an independent fundraiser for ABC’s “Bullying Stops Here” Campaign or if you would like to bring a workshop or seminar to your school or community visit ABC’s website at: http://www.antibullycrusaders.org or Facebook/AntibullyCrusaders or Instagram@Antibullycrusaders.

ABC hosts forum-rally at Martin Luther King, Sr. High School in Detroit.

RELATED STORIES:

https://www.abc12.com/content/news/Northwestern-graduates-14-8th-graders-as-Anti-Bully-Crusaders–483077551.html

https://rollingout.com/2018/03/04/lauren-washington-speaks-out-against-bullying/

https://www.thehubflint.com/flint-business-owner-offers-youth-entrepreneurial-experience-and-inspiration/


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