Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Crowdfunding project takes aim to stop bullying

Torrey Mercer is a UC Irvine graduate; she is also an award winning music artist and advocate for students against bullying. Her interest in making the world a safer place for adolescents motivated her to start The Pledge Tour project. This was not only a way to help the community, but this is a personal quest for Mercer.

Mercer and other artists (to be named later) have joined together to start a tour to deliver a positive message to schools in the greater California area and around the country called The Pledge Tour. The Pledge Tour is a character-building concert assembly program for schools that challenges K-12 students on a long-term basis to "take the pledge" to be kinder, more tolerant, positive individuals, and to make a difference in their lives.

The idea began in 2011 when Mercer was invited to perform at the No Bully Tour, where she played at various campuses, Boys and Girls Clubs, Summer Camps, and Six Flags amusement parks to talk to children about ending bullying. This inspired Mercer to want to start her own anti-bullying campaign to continue to pass on this positive and inspiring message.

Since that first tour, Mercer has worked with several non-profit organizations and charities that help to prevent suicide, eating disorders, depression, self-harming, and various other conditions to help children and teens to heal, overcome symptoms of bullying, and identify bullying and prevent it.

In 2013, Mercer began touring with her brother (Mason Mercer) in many cities as she performed music and inspired thousands of students in middle schools to join her pledge to end bullying. In those speeches, Mercer told students of her personal stories of being bullied in elementary school.

Mercer personally identifies with students with her owns stories of being victimized during her time as a student in elementary, middle, and high school. In elementary school it was primarily for her weight and was surrounded by students who were extremely athletic and made fun of her for it. Mercer's experience in Middle school was mostly by standard "mean girls," which included spreading false rumors and psychological tricks. During High School, Mercer was teased about her singing abilities. Mercer received a number of online attacks on the website Formspring, calling her a "horrible singer" and made fun of her music videos.

Over the course of those years of being the victim of bullying, Mercer of course felt insecure about her body and her overall self-image. It wasn't until she was 16, that the singer-songwriter decided to take a stand, not by attacking her aggressors, but helping others by teaching her peers to cope with bullying, to identify, to intervene, and help put an end to bullying.

“Bullying can lead to higher drop out rates in school, and higher suicide rates. By contributing to our cause, you will be contributing to lowering these numbers, and to helping schools to realize that they can be their own forces of change, and have the power to change the climate of their school,” said Mercer

To continue to tell these stories and help end bullying, Mercer kicked off a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo this month to help raise money to fund the tour and make The Pledge Tour its own company.

“As we officially make 'The Pledge Tour' it's own company, it is going to need start up funds. Like any other company, a significant amount of work goes into launching it, and getting it off the ground, and it's with your help that we will have what we need to ultimately make the impact on thousands of students lives.”

Crowdfunding is a means of securing financial support by helping individuals tap into their networks through the Internet. While a lot of research funding relies on receiving large amounts of money from a single donor, crowdfunding campaigns usually succeed through small donations from many individuals.

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