The following column was written by Devin Moore ‘26, founder of Race To Speak Up Inc., an anti-bullying organization, and author of the children’s book “Devin Speaks Up!” Devin is a sophomore pursuing a degree in psychology and a minor in nonprofit leadership and social innovation at the University of Maryland. A native to New York, their future plans are to continue their work in advocacy by becoming a mental health professional who supports youth struggling with bullying around the world.
We can learn the importance of patience and understanding. We can learn that embracing one another’s differences can be a beautiful experience. We can learn that sometimes it is okay to step out of your comfort zone and talk to a person who doesn't look like you or talk like you. And we can learn that being kind can be absolutely rewarding.Devin Moore 2023 Accelerator Fellow and Do Good Intern
While I was in middle school, I was bullied. It altered my life. It was traumatizing. It was hurtful. It was offensive. I am thankful that I spoke to my parents about what I was going through because keeping the pain inside can lead to disastrous results. Bullying can lead to anxiety, depression, self harm and suicide.
I know sharing my personal struggle with bullying has helped so many people to no longer feel unsafe. I don’t want another kid to go through what I went through so I have made bullying prevention my life’s work.
As the founder of Race To Speak Up, my goal is to raise awareness about bullying prevention. I do this by hosting anti-bullying workshops and presentations, as well as educating others about how to be an upstander – a person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied. Whether it is giving a hug to the target of bullying or saying “I’m here for you”, upstanders are there to support.
It’s crucial to start the anti-bullying conversation at a young age. Education and prevention is a vital part to tackling the bullying epidemic. My experiences and anti-bullying knowledge led me to become a first time author of “Devin Speaks Up!” a children’s book focused on anti-bullying. The book’s premise is the importance of accepting our differences and loving who you are, speaking to someone you trust about being bullied and the importance of kindness and encouraging kids to be upstanders for one another. It’s such an amazing and rewarding feeling when kids come up to me and say “Devin Speaks Up! and I will too.”
As a sophomore at UMD majoring in psychology and minoring in nonprofit leadership and social innovation, I have been able to explore wonderful opportunities through the Do Good Institute. Last year, I gave Terps Takes Action presentations where I discussed the most effective ways UMD students can create social change and provided them with resources on campus to make a positive impact. I learned how to effectively teach my peers to make a rewarding impact on campus and it has been an incredible feeling. UMD provides safe spaces to have incredible conversations. Through this opportunity, as well as my eagerness to bring anti-bullying education onto campus, I applied (and was accepted) to the Do Good Accelerator Fellows program to create and host an event that promotes supporting each other. As my main goal for the Fellowship, we held a “Diversity Dialogue.” During the event, students from different racial, cultural, religious, sexual orientation and gender backgrounds came together to talk about how we can all support each other and their experience in the world living with their identities.
Supporting each other and looking at our differences in a positive light is vital to creating a safer world for all. Bullying is a crisis. Mental health is a crisis. I have had countless conversations about mental health and how we can uplift and embrace one another in a significant way. We can’t ignore it. Yes, it can be hard to have difficult conversations. It can be hard to say “I am not okay.” Let’s talk about it and get through this together. Students ask ‘How do we solve the issue of bullying?’, ‘How can we make a positive change?’ and ‘How can we support each other?’. I say that it can start with an open conversation where we listen to each other’s experiences and work toward understanding and supporting one another. Through Race To Speak Up and Devin Speaks Up!, I will continue to educate as many as I can, because I know that it can save lives. My plans for the future are to continue to host my Race To Speak Up Against Bullying workshops, my Youth Entrepreneurship presentations, and give Devin Speaks Up! book readings.
Let’s embrace one another’s differences and have respectful conversations about what we don’t understand. We can learn so much from each other, more than most of us can ever imagine.
We can learn the importance of patience and understanding. We can learn that embracing one another’s differences can be a beautiful experience. We can learn that sometimes it is okay to step out of your comfort zone and talk to a person who doesn't look like you or talk like you. And we can learn that being kind can be absolutely rewarding.
For more information about Devin’s work, visit the Race to Speak Up website, order Devin’s book “Devin Speaks Up!”, listen to the “Race to Speak Up” podcast on Youtube, or Follow Race to Speak up on Instagram.