Words can hurt, even if you have trouble hearing them.
But Kwalikum Secondary student Emily Godfrey is hoping many people see and hear what she has to say about her experience being bullied.
She’s put together a video discussing how she was “brutally victimized” by her peers for wearing hearing aids, and how she’s pushed through that part in her life by volunteering, joining groups and working with kids. The video is part of a $5,000-scholarship contest that she hopes to win to help pay for post-secondary education toward her goal of becoming a pediatric surgeon.
Godfrey was six years old when she was diagnosed with “moderate hearing loss” after a regular school screening at French Creek Elementary School.
She was soon fitted with hearing aids. The bullying didn’t start until she moved to another school in the area.
“It was really hard for me there,” she said, especially due to one student in particular who picked on her. The hearing aids weren’t always what kids fixed on. Often it was a Teddy Bear clasp, which she wore to make sure the hearing aids wouldn’t fall out, that drew mean comments.
Godfrey got rid of the clasp, but tried not to hide her hearing aids upon returning to French Creek Elementary in Grade 4. “I didn’t want to hide it. I didn’t want to be untrue to myself.”
Nonetheless, things continued to be tough, especially as family circumstances resulted in her moving to Mexico for a time, and living in a few different homes upon returning to Canada. Her social anxiety grew to the point where she hid in bathroom stalls at lunchtime and ate alone.
Eventually, she stopped wearing her hearing aids altogether, she said. “I just, I hated them,” said Godfrey. But she was still bullied.
By about Grade 10, at Kwalikum Secondary School, Godfrey decided she’d had enough.
She saw her friends and peers joining clubs and playing sports, and she knew she wanted to be a doctor and would need to build up a resume to apply for scholarships. “I started my hunt for scholarships and doing as many extracurricular things as I could.” At Kwalikum Secondary, she joined a leadership group. Later she helped establish the Interact Club at the school. During the summer she worked at camps for kids, where she discovered a love for working with children. She also did small things like participate more in class.
“I thought, if I could just get out of this state of social anxiety and just put myself out there, even though I feel scared, even though I feel like everyone is judging me, even if it’s not true… I thought, I just need to break out of this shell and just do what I love and be myself, and as long as I do that, it doesn’t matter what people think.”
Godfrey has also put herself out there by creating a video detailing her experience being bullied and the difference her efforts to be more involved and connect with people have made. The video is a submission for a $5,000-scholarship through SOS Safety Magazine. She needs public votes to win the scholarship, but said she hopes others learn from her video.
To vote for Godfrey’s video and see other submissions, go to sossafetymagazine.com/vote-2018/. Voters must log-in via Facebook. The deadline to vote is Jan. 31.