BrEnn Wickheim

Letters raised to highlight differences

Young student begins campaign against bullying in unique way

How many of us have witnessed bullying and done nothing about it? Twelve-year old BrEnn Wickheim is included among that number.

Very upfront in a speech to the Raise A Letter campaign, BrEnn spoke her truth: “Last summer, I witnessed a former friend bully an innocent little girl. I was so shocked by what I saw, I could not act at the time. I have never forgiven myself. Now I am acting.”

It was this specific event, watching a four-year-old friend being targeted by a bully, that spurred BrEnn into action last December, and resulted in an anti-bullying campaign called “Raise a Letter.”

“By raising a letter in the middle of my name, … I am intentionally making myself different because that is what most kids get bullied for. I also do it because I have the right to be different and I want to use that right. The letter that I raise, ‘E,’ stands for empathy. Empathy means to understand how other people feel. We need to understand how people feel before we can overcome and stop bullying. This means bullies and victims alike.”

She is slowly spreading the word (raising the letter), and she has the support of South Island Distance Education School (SIDES), and the Office of the Prime Minister has expressed an interest in the campaign.

Besides promoting the Raise A Letter campaign, BrEnn has also become an intervener, someone who takes action on witnessing bullying (instead of being the bystander).

In another instance, BrEnn witnessed a child being verbally bullied.

“There was a friend and she was being bullied and bugged by another girl in the group, and when she wouldn’t stop I decided this wasn’t right, so I stepped up and I said, ‘Hey, can you stop because this is making her upset, it’s making me upset, it’s not making anyone happy’.”

The outcome? “She backed off pretty quickly,” said BrEnn, adding that she was quite surprised by the effectiveness of her intervention. “I honestly thought she was the type of person to just call me a name and continue doing it, but she didn’t … she backed off.”

When asked why she thinks people generally don’t step up to intervene, BrEnn spoke with understanding and insight.

“I think it’s fear, fear of being laughed at and being bullied themselves. I think they’re scared … of not being accepted, and (of) failing.”

When asked what she as a home-schooler knows about bullying, BrEnn made the point that bullying does not begin and end in the school yard. It’s pervasive and reaches all social activities, many of which BrEnn is engaged in.

Her mother, LauRa (Respect) Barker and her siblings VaiLe (Learn) and AvAn (Acceptance) have followed BrEnn’s lead. Her father, Al, is still trying to figure out how not to appear like he’s shouting out his first name, on modifying the second (of two) letters in his name.

When it comes to looking a bully straight in the eye, BrEnn Wickheim has no fear. And through her campaign, she’s encouraging others to celebrate their differences, and to stand for something.

Just Posted

Candidate forum planned for Sooke

Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce hosts event Oct. 11

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Oak Bay father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

UPDATED: Hundreds gather to reflect and remember UVic students killed in bus crash

Campus community invited to reflect, support one another

Greater Victoria could see a months worth of rain within a week this fall

Weather Network predicts wet, warm fall season for B.C.

Province overrules View Royal; plans to build handyDART facility

View Royal Mayor calls province’s actions “heavy handed” and “unusual”

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Man who crushed Nanaimo RCMP cars with stolen truck gets more jail time

Majore Jackson, 34, sentenced to two more years in jail in provincial court in Nanaimo

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Vancouver Island man bikes through B.C. Interior for mental health, addiction awareness

Vancouver Island Resident Mat Fee is approaching the final phase of his cross-Canada bike journey to raise awareness about addiction recovery.

Most Read