NEW HAVEN — Bullying.
It seems to be happening everywhere these days. But, to Miss West Virginia?
Miss West Virginia 2016 Morgan Breeden visited schools in Mason County last week, spreading her pageant platform of “Bullies Beware: I Have a Lion in my Heart.”
The 22-year-old from Charles Town told students at New Haven Elementary School on Friday that she was bullied for 10 years because of the way she looked. Breeden said the bullying began when she entered middle school in sixth grade.
“Going into a new school, I was terrified,” she told the students. “I was very unhappy because a group of people were being very mean to me.”
Breeden described her experience as leaving her lonely, upset and scared. She told the students that she missed a lot of school, even being homeschooled for a period before returning to public school.
Breeden said she didn’t tell anyone about the bullying and didn’t ask for help. She encouraged the children to tell a teacher, counselor, parent, or other adult if they are a victim.
“I had to eventually try to be happy,” she said. “I went back to school. I had to be brave.”
Breeden explained her determination came as a result of her father, who told her to be like the lion in the “Wizard of Oz” – to find her courage.
“You can still be scared, but be courageous,” she emphasized to the children.
Telling them it took her a long time to be happy again, she spoke to the youngsters about confidence and learning to love themselves. She urged the students to look in the mirror each morning and say positive things about themselves.
“See how special you are,” she stated.
Breeden also held a lighthearted question and answer session with the children, answering inquiries about family, pets, and what holidays she believes in and how she celebrates them. She posed with several of the youngsters, accepting hugs and well wishes.
Breeden attends Shepherd University, although she took the year off during her reign as Miss West Virginia to travel throughout the state and spread her platform. She is also the fiancé of Jamin Branch of Mason.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who can be reached at [email protected]