Country singer Lizzie Sider promotes positive message during National Bullying Pervention Month
“A lot of the time, I would be excluded from games at recess, and so what I would do is I’d walk around and I’d sing to myself, because I loved to sing. And, there was a group of girls. . . . They would come up and ask me to sing a song for them,” ’ 16-year old Floridian country singer Lizzie Sider said, recalling experiences she had being bullied in elementary school. “I’d think, ‘Maybe this time they actually mean it, maybe they really do want to hear me.’ So, I’d start singing for them. And then, they’d laugh at me, call me names, and they’d run away.”
Those memories impacted her so deeply, she decided to use her platform to spread positivity through the “Nobody Has The Power To Ruin Your Day” bully prevention assembly tour. Sider has already taken the tour to three states and visited 205 schools. As part of National Bullying Prevention Month, Sider is urrently taking the tour to at least one school in each of New York City’s five boroughs.
The singer performs at assemblies primarily for children in grades three to five. “It’s very important to have a really strong connection with the kids, and really whoever [I’m] talking to,” she said, explaining why she enjoys taking the tour directly into school auditoriums.
In the 40 minute program, she discusses why bullying is unacceptable. Sider also focuses on teaching kids how to overcome being bullied, or change their ways if they have been a bully to others. She interacts with the audience, asking them to come up with reasons why people bully, and hands out wristbands to remind everyone of the message of the tour, which is that, “Nobody has the power to ruin your day.”
At one point, Sider has the children close their eyes and raise their hand if they’ve ever been bullied. After a minute, everyone opens their eyes and looks around at all the hands up. “That let’s everyone know that [others have] been through the same thing. That’s very eye opening and I think that can do a lot for a person, just [having] that realization,” said Sider.
To end the program, Sider sings her hit song, “Butterfly.” She wrote the song in 2011 with a team of writers, including singer Jamie O’Neal, in O’Neal’s living room. Sider told her story of being bullied in school. Through the story, the writers realized that the experience of overcoming bullying is similar to the lifecycle of a butterfly. Sider compared being bullied to being in a cocoon. Victims often feel alone, and restricted, afraid to show themselves. But once they move past the negativity, they are free to be who they are. “The message behind it is that we all need to spread our wings and fly as high as we can.”
That message touches kids in ways Sider never thought possible. One little girl gave Sider her rhinestone bracelet after a show in California. Sider later learned that the girl was a foster child, and the bracelet represented one of her foster mothers passing on love and hope. “The principal said that [the girl] wanted to give this bracelet to me now, because I gave her hope again.”
Sider is excited to bring her message of perseverance to New York City. Though a tour like this can be tiring at times, she is energized by seeing the smiles she brings to kids’ faces, and the genuine connections she makes with people every day. “My whole goal is to do good things. Singing, and inspiring people, and just being a role model. . . is my dream. It’s been amazing.”
Sider ends her stay in New York on Oct. 15 with a performance at The Bitter End. Her EP is scheduled for release in early 2015.