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One Day Federal Way: Teens pledge to end bullying

Positivity is the best way to end bullying and violence in schools, according to the Advancing Leadership Youth Class of 2013.

The students rallied dozens of peers with that message at their annual One Day Federal Way outreach effort, held Tuesday at Federal Way High School.

This year's theme was "Mission: VolunTEEN," which centered on promoting positive activities such as volunteering. Franciscan Health System partnered with the students on behalf of building a safer community.

To demonstrate the psychological impact of bullying, students participated in an experiment with clothespins. Several students clipped on clothespins and, in a timed exercise, swiped as many as they could from one another.

Some students wore blindfolds — and became easy targets for the game's clothespin hunters. This symbolized the helplessness and vulnerability found in victims of bullying.

Keynote speaker Erin Jones reinforced the concept that people who are hurt will turn around and hurt other people. Jones, who is the school district's Director of Equity and Achievement, shared her personal experience with racism and bullying. Jones and her white adoptive parents were harassed and threatened to the point where they moved from a small town in Minnesota to live overseas in the Netherlands.

She returned to the U.S. to attend college, but was confronted again by brutal racism and intolerance over the color of her skin. However, she turned a negative into a positive, and developed a passion for eradicating bullying.

Jones reiterated to Federal Way students that words can injure, but they also heal.

"We each have the power to change a life with our words," Jones said. "Choose to speak words that bring life to people, not death."

At the event, Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest encouraged the students to leave the city in better shape than when they found it.

"The city's greatest strength is its culture of responsibility. We understand people can't do it alone," Priest said. "You all get a chance to step up and be part of that culture of responsibility. Today is a day, one way or another, that you can make a difference."

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