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Women of WTHR brighten up bullied student's birthday

Lyla's mother wrote to WTHR and shared a story about her daughter's experience at school with bullying. The women of WTHR saw the note and decided to do something to help Lyla.
From left to right: Jennie Runevitch, Mimi Pearce, Anna Carrera, Anne Marie Tiernon, Lyla, Emily Longnecker, Alyssa Raymond, Julia Moffitt.

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) — Last month, a mother wrote to WTHR and shared a story about her daughter Lyla. She said Lyla was dealing with bullying at school, especially during lunch.

She wanted to reach out after seeing a story from February about some of the women from WTHR visiting a bullied student at Franklin Township Middle School.

In the email, she wrote:

It’s only the start of the second week of school and it’s already started - the lunch room experience - soul crushing, bullying, confidence blocking, loud, intimidating, and ever so lonely. Of course this isn’t every kids experience in the lunchroom but it was mine and unfortunately, it is my beautiful, strong willed, old soul, God loving, animal loving 12 year old whose goal this year "is to make 5 friends."

After school, the first day of school, the lunch room environment struck again. "No. Not this year. Not again!" My girl saw her friend and asked if she could sit by her. Unfortunately, she was met with a no. After listening to how crushed she was that her best (and seemingly only) friend denied her "seating privileges."

Week 2: When asking the dreaded lunch room question: "How was lunch overall last week." My sweet girl replies, "I love my notes on the napkins. I still want to save all of them. I like that I’m eating salad but you give me too much dressing."

Her dad then asks the dreaded question, "Who have you been sitting with at lunch?" She replied, "Just random people. Wherever I can find a spot."

Finding hope in that reply I respond, "I love that you are meeting new people." Her dad and I hold back tears when she replies, "I tried but they asked, 'Why are you even sitting with us? Why are you here?'"

I have no words other than why does the lunchroom and even recess continue to be agonizing for so many children? Why is the set up virtually the same?

I want to be a part of a solution. I want to help increase friendships, confidence, the ability to see good in everyone, no matter what. Yes, the lunchroom is for eating, refueling, but what if it could be so much more than that for everyone? A place where all can enjoy? A place where even 10 years from now my girl can ask her daughter, "So what all did you get to enjoy during today’s lunch and recess?"

Let’s get a plan in place and see it to fruition. Let’s make a difference in the lives of our kids, all kinds of kids :)

A loving mom

The women of WTHR saw the note and decided to do something to help Lyla. Seven WTHR reporters and anchors visited Lyla's school in Zionsville to celebrate her birthday with a special lunch.

Some days, you just need a hug. Meet my friend Lyla. She turned 12 today. Last month her mom wrote the ladies at Channel...

Posted by Emily Longnecker WTHR on Thursday, September 20, 2018

"Lyla’s mother never asked us to have lunch with her daughter on her birthday. We just have such an amazing, supportive, caring group of women at WTHR that we all just decided we wanted and needed to do lunch with Lyla on her birthday to show her that she is amazing," Eyewitness News Anchor / Reporter Alyssa Raymond said in a post on Facebook. "She can be the permanent change and that she doesn’t need to change herself because of others."