OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Kids and teens can feel hopeless when they are bullied, like there is no one in their corner, but one group of metro girls is using softball to stand up against bullying. A uniform can be a symbol for those who wear one, but for FTA Force it’s a way to fight back.
“We just know a lot of kids that have been through it, and didn’t make it, and we want to put a stop to that,” 16-year-old Gracie Ussery said.
The outfits have names of friends, family, classmates, and neighbors of the girls who all took their lives because of bullying inscribed on the side of their pants.
“It means everything to me to wear her name, and I want to wear the name in honor of everyone else who`s taken their own life,” said 16-year-old Kacey Chamberlin.
Chamberlin lost her friend to suicide in May of this year, and says every time she goes out on the field she does it for her.
“She would want me to push forward and stand out for her,” Chamberlin said. “She wouldn’t want me to be upset. She would want me to stand up and make a change, so I want to do that, and I want to do that for everyone that`s bullied everywhere.”
For kids like 12-year-old Dezerae Hovis from Blue Springs who says eight girls at her middle school have been bullying her. Hovis’ mother, Nicole Danforth, says Hovis misses school sometimes because of what she’s dealing with.
“I was super happy to be at school that day, and then once I opened my locker it was very hard to stay in that situation,” Hovis said.
Inside her locker she found a handwritten note that told her she should kill herself. She ran to the bathroom and texted a picture of the note to her mother. Danforth says she came right away to pick her up.
“It said I’m ugly, I’m fat,” Hovis said. “It said to kill myself, and it was very hard to take.”
“She was scared,” Danforth said. “She was scared to go to school. She was getting bullied. She got her hair pulled in the hallway, she got threats on social media, a lot of threats all the time.”
“We want her to know we want her to stay strong, and that she is awesome,” Ussery said.
The girls invited Hovis to their game to show her, while a few bullies might get in her way, they will always have her back.
“This girl is so beautiful, and pretty, and we just want to bring everything to her, and show her that she does mean the world to us, and we will stand behind her in her fight,” Chamberlin said. “She’s not alone.”
“It’s amazing, and school on Monday, I think I’m just going to kick through the week, and do what I need to do,” Hovis said.
The girls say it’s their mission to make sure every teen knows they are worthy and loved, because they last thing they want to do is wear another name on their uniforms.
“We just want to help people know that they’re better, and that they have worth in this world, and that they really do mean something,” Chamberlin said.
The girls on the team are from cities across the metro. They say each one of them try to combat bullying in their own schools through raising awareness, using social media for good, and being a friend to whoever needs one.
The team’s uniforms and design was done by Five Tool Apparel, a company out of Texas, that also sponsors the team. If you would like a rise against bullying shirt of your own you can get one here.