LIMA — All the way from Connecticut the girl said she was thinking of suicide, prompting Trey Wheeler to contact police officers while still broadcasting his bullying prevention program on the Internet.
Officers found the girl and she eventually received counseling. And her mother repeatedly thanks 16-year-old Trey, of Lima.
“That just makes me feel good,” Trey said. “It has been a lot of work, but it is paying off.”
The West Central Learning Academy junior began the Bullying Prevention Team two years ago. It started with a Facebook page garnering 250 “likes” in the earlier months. Today nearly 800 people have found the anti-bullying page. The team also has a website.
Trey, who started the team with a couple of friends, began seeing more examples of cyberbullying when online. He wasted no time tackling the problem.
“I immediately thought that maybe that is something I can prevent,” he said. “It is mind-blowing from where we have come from.”
The bullying prevention team has come a long way, including starting chapters in Nashville, Tenn., and Atlanta. Teenagers from those areas saw what the team was doing and wanted to get involved. Trey traveled to Nashville in March to meet with a team member.
“More and more people have started understanding that bullying is a national — and is becoming an international — epidemic,” said Trey, who along with team members, has received various training on bullying and drug prevention. “We want to get trained to be able to help more people and to empower and educate more people.”
Trey spoke during St. Gerard Catholic School’s Positive Addiction Week and has been invited to speak to students in Tulsa, Okla.
Next up is a trip to Los Angeles later this week. Trey is one of 25 teenagers around the country to be selected to the youth advisory board of LoveIsRespect, a program and hot line to combat teen dating abuse. It is his first real venture outside of bullying, but likely not his last.
The bullying prevention team has worked with a number of organizations, both locally and nationally. Trey has been in contact with the creators of Submit the Documentary, a movie due out next year that tells the stories of families affected by cyberbullying. He is also working on starting an online radio broadcast with hopes of having people on to talk about their bullying experiences.
“It is another way we want to connect with people and help others,” he said. “We want to get more people involved and understanding what bullying is and that it is a problem. There needs to be more people to step up and take on anti-bullying.”
In the meantime, Trey is spending much of his time, including many late nights online, working for the cause. He does so with little financial backing, but is hoping as the team gets better known, some funding will start rolling in.
People often ask Trey why he works so hard. His answer comes easy.
“I want to inspire people and I want someone to look at me and say, ‘Because of you I didn’t give up,’” he said. “I like working in the prevention world because it is fun and because I like helping people and changing people’s lives.”
Find Trey and his “Bullying Prevention Team” on Facebook, or go to www.bullyingpreventionteam.org. To sponsor a project or donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.