Jaylen Arnold knows exactly what it’s like to be attacked for being a little different. The Lakeland, Florida boy was born with Tourette’s Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes him to involuntarily tic and make sounds. He also has Aspergers Syndrome and severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Unfortunately, his differences made him a target of bullies. As Yahoo! Shine reports, the teasing got so bad he had to be taken out of school. But instead of suffering silently, when he was only 8-years-old, Jaylen decided that he had nothing to be ashamed of and that the bullies would never get to him. He also wanted to make sure no other kid—especially ones with disabilities—would go through what he did.
With the help from his friends and family, Jaylen launched his own charity, the Jaylen’s Challenge Foundation, to put an end to bullying through education and urging tolerance.
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“Once kids are educated about it, they won’t bully so much,” Jaylen writes on his website. “I put it to the test with the class at the school I attended here for a few months. It was a huge success! You should have seen all the kids coming up to me that use to make fun and copy me. They were actually telling me they were sorry!”
Now 13, Jaylen makes appearances at schools across the country to help banish bullying. According to Yahoo!, the seventh-grader has spoken to more than 60,000 kids, in the hopes that his message will create a domino effect of change.
“I’m trying to make the world a better place in any way that I can, because if I can help one person, then that person can help someone else, and then that person can help someone else,” Jaylen said. “We all come together to end bullying.”
Jaylen’s mission to stamp out bullying has already received national attention. As you can see in the video below, he recently received a $10,000 check from talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres to help him in his cause.