Mahealani Sims-Tulba, 18, of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, a senior at Sacred Hearts Academy, created a nonprofit foundation to communicate about the problem of bullying to students throughout Hawaii. After Mahealani experienced firsthand the destructive power of bullying in the fifth grade, she wrote a book about it and began using the book as a tool to reach out to other young people. “I realized that there are many others in the same situation as me,” she said. “I wanted to spread my message of positivity, encouragement, kindness and respect for others.”
Mahealani formed her foundation, and then started asking schools and libraries if she could come and read to their kids and talk about bullying. On these visits, she distributes copies of her book, It’s Okay to Be Different, along with silicon bracelets, and sometimes brings along her mascot Buddy the Bulldog. Mahealani has spoken in front of thousands of elementary, middle level and high school students statewide, and participated in numerous community events to make both youngsters and parents aware of bullying issues. She also created a music video on the subject, appeared on a weekly television program, and conducted an annual toy drive for children in need. By her count, Mahealani’s “B.R.A.V.E.” campaign (which stands for “Be Respectful and Value Everyone”) has so far reached more than 40,000 students across Hawaii.