As participants could see on Aug. 10 in Bashaw’s Be Brave golf tournament, Logan Nugent is smiling again.
“When he was going through bullying, very seldom did we hear Logan laugh,” said his mother, Kirsten Nugent, an organizer of the second annual tournament at the Country 9 golf course.
“Very seldom did he smile. And now to have a kid that laughs, (it’s a significant change).”
Logan, who turned 12 in July, played in the Bashaw anti-bullying golf tournament. He inspired the name of the campaign, Be Brave Against Bullying, after enduring what his mother called potentially tragic verbal abuse when he was in Grade 4.
“This raises awareness,” said Logan’s mom, the president and founder of the support group known as Be Brave (Bullying Resources and Victim Education).
“Our main goal of Be Brave is to raise awareness … in central Alberta, for sure.
“It’s not a problem just in the (United) States, because that’s where someone committed suicide. It’s not just a problem in Nova Scotia, because someone committed suicide. It’s all over.
“I believe that the more you talk about something (harmful), the less it’s going to happen. By talking, it’s just more out there. There’s always going to be stuff happening, but if you talk about it, it’s easier to deal with. Denying it and shoving it under the rug is not going to fix it.”
Nugent speaks from her family’s experience. Logan was in Grade 4 when she learned through another student’s mother that he had been bullied at school.
She was told he was being called many names, none of which were Logan, his actual name.
“He was being bullied all through his school years,” she said. “I didn’t know the extent of it until Grade 4. So he was nine (years old) when it all kind of came to a head and he became suicidal.
“(The abuse) was pretty horrific. It wasn’t anything physical, but it was very emotional — mental, verbal — every day, all day.”
The Nugents pulled Logan out of school, homeschooled him for a year, and moved him to another school last year for Grade 6.
“We needed to make some decisions as a family to keep our son safe, because at that point, in Grade 4, it was a life-or-death situation,” Nugent said. “And I am not over-exaggerating that.
“Logan struggles with mental-health issues like anxiety and depression, so when a kid like that is bullied, it just amplifies it so much more.
“He was lucky that he had a couple of good friends, so he wasn’t completely isolated.”
Fast forward to this month’s golf tournament, where Logan was surrounded by 45 like-minded people on a splendid Saturday morning. Among those supporters were his grandparents, parents and nine-year-old sister Emmy.
“We have great friends,” Nugent said. “I don’t think you can go through something like bullying without having a support system. It’s very important to have a support system, and it’s very important not to be judged for what you choose to do for your child to heal that (abuse) or move forward from that. It was a hard decision for us to move our kids to another school.”
Part of the healing process has been the greater public recognition that bullying exists in many forms, not only among children, Nugent said. “I’m a very proactive person and I’m very passionate about it.
“In no way, shape or form is it just a Bashaw issue. That’s why we do work with Victim Services, so we try to hit their area. That’s Donalda, Mecca Glen, Alix (and) Mirror. It’s important to get the awareness out there, everywhere.
“Last year, we had a world-renowned speaker, Bill Belsey, come up to speak in Bashaw.”
Bullying victim Austen Radowits, who participated in last year’s Bashaw golf tourney, has spoken at schools in Bashaw, Stettler and Erskine.
This Saturday afternoon at West Stettler Park, a youth rally is expected to include speeches from Airdrie bullying victim Mackenzie Murphy and her mother, Tara Murphy, and Carol Todd, mother of the late Amanda Todd.
The rally is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and include music, food and games.