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The City Journals

Students Learn to Fight Bullies with Kindness

Mar 09, 2016 02:53PM ● By Bryan Scott

By Kelly Cannon | [email protected]

Sandy - Students at Park Lane Elementary learned true superheroes don’t wear capes but are kind to everyone. A special anti-bullying presentation was given to students about how to stand up to bullies and how to be kind to one another.

“If you fight with smarts and kindness, you will win,” Jessie Funk, a motivational speaker and youth advocate. 

Funk travels the country giving motivational speeches about not being a bully, or as she calls them, a “Grumpycat.”

“We all make mistakes, and we can say we’re sorry,” Funk explained. “But a real grumpycat is never sorry.”

Funk began her presentation by asking the elementary students who their favorite superheroes are. After the students shouted names like Batman or The Hulk, Funk asked the student who their favorite real-life superheroes are. Some students said their parents or their best friend. 

Funk explained to the students that she studies history, specifically all the leaders in history who were real heros, such as Ghandi or Helen Keller. 

“All of these heroes have one thing in common,” Funk said. “All of them were bullied.” 

Funk invited a student up on the stage and reenacted different ways to defeat a bully. The main strategy Funk encouraged is to stay calm, don’t retort and then give a compliment. 

“If you are actively kind when they are being actively mean, it creates this secret called cognitive dissonance,” Funk said. “That means they are confused.”

Funk finished her talk with a fun demonstration of basic self-defense techniques. Using a young girl from the audience, she showed how even someone smaller can get out of a situation where someone is holding your arm. Funk herself is a black belt in karate.

“If you are smarter, it doesn’t matter if I’m bigger than you or stronger than you,” she said. 

Principal Justin Jeffery said he felt the presentation was wonderful for his students and one of his favorite assemblies he’s seen. He also commented on how good it is to teach the students an actual skill when it comes to bullying. 

“We teach a lot about bullying to the point we almost bully about bullying,” Jeffery said. “That’s not what we want to do. We want to send a positive message, and I think [Funk] hit the nail on the head.”

Funk has been a motivational speaker for the past 13 years. She started her career as a singer, releasing five albums. However, she quickly became bored of that and wanted to do more.

“I saw so many problems and I wanted to help,” Funk said.

Funk holds a leadership certification from the University of Notre Dame University and a degree in psychology. Funk is the executive director of the nonprofit organization Ivy Girl Academy. The nonprofit hosts workshops for teen girls to teach them how to be modern-day ladies. Based on 12 levels of ladyhood, including confidence, self-defense and social etiquette. The program is based off of Funk’s book, “The Lost Art of Ladyhood.” 

She mostly speaks to junior high and high school students but made a special exception since her mother is a teacher at Park Lane. She tailored her talk to be more kid friendly. With the older kids, she also delves into what is a healthy relationship, what are the red flags of abuse and how to get out of a toxic relationship. 

More information about Funk and her work can be found at