October marks National Bullying Prevention Month, which was established in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center.

This is a worldwide campaign that has evolved into a nationwide call to action to educate communities about their roles in bullying prevention.

This sets a platform for creating safety in our communities and for our youth.

Ann-Marie Cornwall-Garden, a local youth mentor for the ACTS mentoring program and a member of Sisters Build Network, is a newly published author who has taken a firm stance against bullying with her recently published book Make Way for Rene.

Cornwall-Garden is a native of the Bronx, and has been a DeLand resident since 2015 with her husband, Jermaine Garden Jr.

Cornwall-Garden had a vision of becoming an author and sharing her message of overcoming the impact of being bullied.

At a young age, she spent countless hours writing and establishing personal and professional goals.

At the top of that list was becoming a mentor for the youth, and writing a book. She had not anticipated how the two would one day intertwine.  

“Bullying is a very emotional topic for me. Over the years, I have seen countless stories of young children turned into victims of bullying because they were being harassed about things regarding their religion, race or gender,” Cornwall-Garden said.

Make Way for Rene was born from a place of compassion and concern for the future of our youth.

Cornwall-Garden was able to activate her voice through the character of Rene and become a community spokeswoman to share the importance of preventing bullying.

This creates a nationwide conversational platform about bullying in hopes of finding solutions.

“You cannot accept the way things are, so we need to use our voices to make a change. I am happy that my wife is using her gift of writing to help the youth find their own voices, in whatever form that may be,” said Jermaine Garden, Ann-Marie’s husband and supporter.

“Our youth need to regain their confidence and recognize that it is OK to speak up about things that they experience that may make them question who they are as an individual,” he added.

Parents, community leaders, fellow students and others are encouraged to continue to take a no-bullying stance and pay close attention to the signs and warnings of possible bullying.

To learn more about Make Way for Rene, email Cornwall-Garden at contact@wordswithgarden.com.

— Cameron, a longtime educator, lives in Orange City. Send email to cameronchronicleslive@gmail.com.