Hillsborough County Honors 2021 Anti-Bullying Recognition Award Winners
Bullying is a serious problem in schools nationwide, with nearly 20 percent of students being bullied each year, and social media can make it difficult for young people to escape bullying even when they are not in the classroom. Because of this growing concern, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners created the Anti-Bullying Advisory Committee (A.B.A.C.) in 2009. Its mission is to develop a comprehensive strategy to address bullying in the county.
During the Oct. 6 meeting of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, Dr. Tom Massey, the chair of A.B.A.C., was presented a proclamation declaring October as Bullying Prevention Month. Following the presentation, the Board honored two young people who have been instrumental in helping address and reduce bullying. Natalie Nicosia, a recent high school graduate, was the recipient of the 2021 Anti-Bullying Recognition Award. Elijah Bainbridge, a high school senior at Pepin Academies Riverview, was recognized as the winner of the 2021 Lead by Example Award.
As they received their awards, both recipients thanked their families, teachers, and the Board for the recognitions.
Nicosia said that she was fortunate to use her position as student council president for her senior class at Lennard High School, in addition to her club memberships, to raise awareness about bullying in her community.
"I was taught about inclusion and sisterhood in Girl Scouting and my volleyball team, so I was able to turn my knowledge into ways to teach my classmates about the stigma and harm that comes with bullying," she said.
After receiving his award, Bainbridge, an 18-year-old senior at Pepin Academies Riverview, said that he always felt that bullying was wrong, and that everyone should defend those who can't defend themselves.
"I believe that we can all make this place a better world, and that we should show more kindness and a little bit more concern toward each other," he said.