LIVINGSTON, NJ — Jessie Chris, a 20-year-old singer/songwriter, recently visited Livingston Public Schools (LPS) to perform her music and share her story about being bullied when she was a child. The Ad Council recently named Chris the face of its new national #BeMore anti-bullying campaign, encouraging everyone to “be more” in creating a kinder, more inclusive, world.
Chris, who was also recently named a 2018 Billboard Artist to Watch and was the first country artist to be named “The TODAY Show” Artist of the Month, is currently traveling across America, visiting 100 middle schools in partnership with the Association of Middle Level Education. Over the last few months, she has been sharing her story and speaking to thousands of students about bullying.
The artist has consistently used her musical stage as a platform to raise awareness of bullying and to support anti-bullying efforts. In addition to being involved with the #BeMore campaign, she has written a children’s book on bullying, which is expected to be released this fall.
Previously, Chris was the face of Disney’s #choosekindness anti-bullying campaign. During the program at Mt. Pleasant Middle School, she acknowledged Hudson Perl, a student whose father works for Disney, as the person who helped connect her to LPS.
Chris performed one program for all fifth-grade students and another for sixth graders. In addition to sharing her experiences, she had plenty of good advice to offer.
“It’s better to have a few amazing friends than a bunch of not-so-good friends,” was just one bit of wisdom she shared with the students.
“It was wonderful that the students in fifth and sixth grade were able to see that a victim of bullying could rise above it and be successful,” said MPMS principal Debra Ostrowski. “The message, ‘different is good’ resonated with our Kindness initiative.”
Students were eager to ask questions during the Q&A portion of the program. Chris was open and honest when a student asked if she ever felt depressed during that difficult time in her life when she was being bullied.
“Absolutely,” she said. “I wasn’t myself.”
She explained that she was so glad that she had music to help her, and encouraged the students to use what they love to get them through hard times. Another student asked Chris if she still gets bullied. The audience laughed when she answered that she does still get bullied by “random haters,” but she also noted that “it doesn’t matter.”
At the end of the program, Chris encouraged students to “be a friend to everybody,” suggesting that they say “hi” to classmates they may not know in the hallway, and urging them to only post positive comments online.
“Small changes make a big difference,” she said.
For more information on Jessie Chris, visit her Facebook page @jessiechrismusic, or on Twitter @thejessiechris.