Rifle second-graders say ‘Shake It Off’ to bullying | PostIndependent.com

Rifle second-graders say ‘Shake It Off’ to bullying

Jack Reyering
Arianna Maddox
Provided |

Bullying is a problem at nearly every school, but two Rifle girls are combating it in an unusual way, hoping to make it a problem of the past.

Second-graders Arianna Maddox and Kendall Vivanco started an anti-bullying campaign in early April. Even with school over and summer break upon them, the girls are still hard at work.

It all started with music. As part of a leadership class, the two girls put together an anti-bullying song.

“We went to a class and started it, and then we performed at our school,” said Kendall.

“They sang an anti-bully rap,” explained Arianna’s mother, Rena Gamble-Maddox.

As a result, Arianna was chosen as the class’s anti-bully leader that month, but that was just the beginning of the girls’ campaign.

Thanks to a stroke of luck and their musical talents, the two second-graders got a rare opportunity to spread their message to the community.

Rifle radio personality Cheryl Minter was waiting for her order in Little Caesars when she heard the two girls singing in the restaurant.

“I heard two voices harmonizing and it was beautiful,” Minter said. “I turned around to tell them how beautiful their voices were together. Rena welcomed me into conversation, where I ended up inviting the girls to come sing a song for our radio audience.”

“It started off in their school,” said Catherine Vivanco, Kendall’s mother. Both she and Gamble-Maddox work at Graham Mesa as paraprofessionals. “So that’s how they got the idea to talk about it on the radio.”

For their live performance, the girls chose to sing “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. Afterward, they talked about their anti-bullying campaign on the air.

“What happened was that the radio got so many calls that they called us back to the radio,” said Gamble-Maddox.

This time they returned with the yellow T-shirts they wore during their original performance. The local Rifle McDonald’s then decided to sponsor them and made more T-shirts for the girls to give out. According to the two mothers, McDonald’s has spent more than $3,000 on T-shirts for the cause.

Now the girls have a weekly segment on the River 95.5 and on Drive 105.

“Every Friday since April,” Gamble-Maddox said.

“They have their own little show,” said Vivanco, “about a 3-minute time slot at 7:40 in the morning, and its sponsored by McDonald’s.”

Part of their show is an anti-bullying challenge.

“It challenges other people who have been bullied to make five new friends,” Arianna explains, “or make a bully smile.”

The girls also invite their friends to come on the show with them to help spread their message.

Since the campaign started, the girls have noticed a change in their school.

“There’s more yellow,” said Kendall, referring to the T-shirts.

“Lots of yellow!” Arianna added.

Next school year, the girls hope to spread their message beyond just the hallways of Graham Mesa.

“We want to see how we can incorporate it into other schools,” Gamble-Maddox said. “We hope to bring these two girls to other schools next year and speak out against it.”

Whether or not the girls’ campaign spreads to other schools, people like Minter know the value of the message the girls are spreading.

“I am now watching these children feeling empowered as they come to the station to get their T-shirt and talk on the air with me, knowing that someone really does care about what is happening and want to help,” Minter said. “The children want so badly to help each other.”

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