At nine years old, Elayna Hasty knew she wanted to make a difference in the world. After facing some difficult experiences, she was inspired to create an organization called Girls Against Bullying Girls or G.A.B. Girls, which works to inspire positive relationships and bring empowerment to women all around the world.
We had the opportunity to ask Hasty some questions about her organization and the inspiration behind it.
What is the mission of G.A.B. Girls?
Elayna Hasty: To encourage, lead, and empower. I want to encourage others to stand up to bullying, have compassion, and help others reach within themselves to find their own unique type of beauty. I want to lead by example and create more positive leaders.
What inspired you to start this movement?
EH: A combination of experiences inspired me to create G.A.B. Girls. When I was very young, I was tormented by an adult. I was told I was fat, stupid, and worthless. There were times I was hit. I had my clothes made fun of. I even had an adult women tell me that she didn’t like my name and that she was going to call me by the name she wanted.
I became very shy and scared. I know how it feels to be treated negatively and not have someone to protect you, especially if it is someone that should. My parents have always supported and encouraged me to stand up for what was right, even if that meant I would stand alone at times. In school I have seen how cruel some of the kids are to one another. I have learned and grown a lot from my own experiences. Now, I’m stronger and more confident because I have taken negative situations to create positive ones by helping others that are in similar situations or just need encouragement.
What kinds of projects/activities do you do to promote your message?
EH: I offer three main workshops: “The Princess Within Me” for ages five through 10, “Free To Be Uniquely Me” for ages six through 13, and “Stand Up and Speak Out” for ages nine through 16. In all of my workshops, I discuss self-esteem building by using five key points.
Why do you think it’s important for girls to lift each other up?
EH: As we grow older and become teenagers, we become insecure about ourselves. We need positive people surrounding us and lifting us up, instead of tearing us down. We need to know our morals, values, and our future goals in life. We should all focus on lifting each other up. Can you imagine the great things we could accomplish if we supported each other?
What’s the best way to combat bullying in communities?
EH: We all have to come together and be positive individuals. Words really do hurt and can cause damage to one’s self esteem. That’s why my message is, “Don’t be a bystander, be an upstander!” We should all learn to stand up and speak out.
How can someone get involved?