Last week, I received an email from a name I didn’t recognize. M said he was a student at Ralston Middle School. He thought I had done a presentation at his school and was writing to let me know that he planned on counting the number of times
i get called a bad name, get a rumor spread about me, have unwanted physical contact, get excluded, called gay, made fun of for my clothes or made fun of because of my body for a week
My heart dropped. I didn’t know what to think. Was this for real? Was it a prank? Spam? Or was this a real kid reaching out for help. I looked him up online and found nothing. So I wrote him back a note telling him he had me confused with someone else but I was sorry he was being called names and hoped he had a grown up or teacher to confide in about it.
But I still didn’t feel complete.
So I looked up Ralston Middle School, which really did exist, across the country in California. And I called them. The secretary connected me to Jon Sanchez, the dean of students, and I told him the story.
“I don’t even know if M is a student at your school, but I just want to make sure that if this kid is getting bullied, he gets some help.”
“M is a student here,” Jon said, “I was his history teacher for 2 years.”
Sigh of relief.
“M is a good student and a member of student council. He participated in a skit last week at a class assembly about bullying, so I wonder if he was just trying to be a champion. I will bring him in for a chat and make sure everything is ok.”
This moment made me so proud to be a human. M was a real kid at a real school, and suddenly there were two people on opposite coasts who cared about whether he was OK. And did something about it.
“Please tell M that I was extremely touched by his email,” I said, “and that I just wanted to make sure that he was safe at school.”
As I hung up the phone, it dawned on me that this is what The Enliven Project is all about. It’s about not being a bystander in life. In less than 10 minutes, I connected with a kid and his teacher and sent the message that the world cared about whether he was safe. It doesn’t take long. It just takes intention and a willingness to stand up for your own values. It takes a belief in the power of connection and community. Every day is filled with moments that we could be more alive. We just have to seize them as they arise.