Local student shares story as part of anti-bullying initiative

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Hannah Bauer as taken “The Pledge to End Bullying” and hopes others join her.

Bauer, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at General Amherst High School, is part of a youth advisory council through Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital (HDGH) and the council has become involved with “The Pledge to End Bullying.” The online platform is where people can take the pledge to stop bullying and raise awareness of the issue.

It’s an issue Bauer takes seriously as bullying happened to her several years ago to the point where she developed an eating disorder and had serious health issues.

When Bauer was 13-years-old, her mother passed away after a long battle with breast cancer.

“At that point in my life, my happiness and self-esteem was deteriorating rapidly,” she said.

The next school year, Bauer started experiencing even more problems.

“In Grade 8, I was severely bullied, mostly for my weight,” she said.

Bauer tried to make changes in her life, including cutting back severely on what she ate and constantly exercised, the latter including spending two hours a night on a treadmill. Her weight plummeted to just over 100 pounds on her six-foot frame.

“You can imagine how frail and skinny I was,” she said.

Fainting spells and concussions were also part of what she was going through thanks to her severe weight loss.

General Amherst student Hannah Bauer is getting as many people as she can to take the “Pledge to End Bullying.” The login information is pictured and students from all schools are welcome to take the pledge. If they don’t go to General Amherst, they can substitute the name of their school when they get to that step.

Wearing baggy clothes to cover up her weight loss, Bauer said she thought she felt good about herself at the time. However, Bauer didn’t realize the effect the eating disorder and self-esteem issues were having on her family.

“I never knew how much it impacted my dad,” she said.

When her father realized what was happening with her, Bauer was taken to the doctor and was confronted with the possibility of having to spend a year in the hospital to recover. As someone who values her education, Bauer said that helped spur her recovery, though, admitted she will never be fully recovered.

Noting she still deals with bullies, Bauer said she has stopped caring what people like that think.

“There is no perfect human being,” she said. “I am proud of who I am. My dad is proud of who I am and I think my mom is too.”

Bauer got involved with the HDGH youth council through General Amherst’s guidance department and “The Pledge to End Bullying” is one of the first initiatives Bauer has been involved with. She said they are not only trying to combat bullying but trying to improve mental health within adolescents as well.

“I get really empowered by (sharing my story),” said Bauer, noting she doesn’t use notes or a script.

Knowing there are others suffering from eating disorders and bullying, Bauer added she is saddened by that and wants them to realize there is help and that there are people who care.

“I want them to know it does get better and it won’t last forever,” she said, adding that her Grade 11 and Grade 12 years have been better for her than it was in Grade 9 and 10.

A lot of Bauer’s close friends already knew of her story but Bauer said she is seeing shock in the faces of other students when she goes to various classes at General Amherst sharing it with them. She would like to continue sharing her story with students in other high schools and elementary schools as well.

“I feel the more people I tell my story to, I can save someone from an eating disorder or a mental illness,” she said. “You don’t know everyone’s story. Everyone has something they are going through.”

Bauer added the people can lean on their families and share what they are going through. She said they can also know they are not alone.

For more on “The Pledge to End Bullying,” visit www.thepledgetoendbullying.ca.

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