Twin sisters Regina and Renita Deloatch know all too well how bullying can impact the life of a young person. Their cousin, who was bullied as a child and throughout her school-age years, eventually committed suicide when the tormenting became too much for her to bear.
That personal tragedy has inspired the Virginia natives to create a 90-minute, interactive, high-energy presentation they call their “Stop the Bullying” School Tour. It has made stops in more than 150 schools nationwide since 2012. Recently, the more than 300 students at Gideons Elementary School took in the show.
“It ties in to all of our character building initiatives like Social Emotional Learning and ‘No Place for Hate,’ which we are implementing with fidelity here at Gideons,” said counselor Dr. Clara Matthews, who invited the Deloatch twins to Gideons. “This is something our kids needed to see, messages they needed to hear.”
The show promotes positive concepts like self-love, self-worth, respect and kindness while also stressing the importance of education. It uses hip-hop beats and lyrics and features real-life dramatizations to grab and hold the attention of students.
“We know how bullying can alter the course of a life,” Renita Deloatch said. “We want to touch the kids who are being bullied, but we also want to touch the kids who are doing the bullying so they can realize what they are doing is wrong. Our message is educational, but we want it to be fun and engaging as well.”
After the performance at Gideons, the twins and their other show participants were swarmed by students, wanting autographs, pictures and advice.
“Our goal is for all the kids we meet to become better people and be nicer to each other,” Regina Deloatch said. “We want them to realize their full potential and go on to graduate from college. If our message can reach just one child, and help that child keep from being bullied or make that child stop bullying other kids, we could have saved a life. And that’s our goal. We don’t want to lecture. We want to uplift.”