Breaking Down the Walls kicks off with school-wide assembly


Elinore Renyer and Miranda Gerbaud “hand hug”. Photo by Sierra Young.

Breaking Down the Walls’s week-long seminar began Nov. 4 with a school-wide assembly in the gym with a special schedule, different from rally schedule. This program visits middle schools and high schools and conducts a series of workshops with a select group of students to encourage them to interact with kids in other friend groups, therefore tightening the gaps in the school atmosphere.

Unlike rallies with everyone shoved into the bleachers, some students sat in the bleachers while others sat on tarps on the floor and in chairs facing one side of the room where the stage was set up. The assembly began with a series of “hand hugs” and speaker Scott Backovich told humorous childhood stories to lighten the mood. Laughter filled the gym but soon came to an end when Backovich shed light on the harsh realities of teen judgment and the anxiety of bullying victims.

Backovich tours the country for months on end to encourage students to reach out and help others who are going through worse problems, whether it be family issues, social anxiety, or just needing to know there is someone who cares about them.

“If I can get every student on this campus to use the things they love, whether it is a sport or a club or anything, to help the people who need it then they’ll stop really being involved in cliques and just be kids who care about each other and help each other,” Backovich said.

Following the speech, students crowded around Backovich. Most wanted a picture with him, others stayed behind to speak to him about their experiences with bullying and thank him.

“He was really motivational and he made me think about how I act towards others because of the stories he told us that make us think of who we could help and how,” Taylor Choisser said.

Students were nominated by their teachers and were encouraged to apply for the $10,000 seminar funded by donations from the PTC and Sutter Roseville Medical Center. After the speech, around a hundred students lined up to add their names to the waiting list.

“Today’s assembly motivated me to actually try to talk to people outside of my friend group,” said Sollee Kim.

Backovich later posted about Whitney on his personal Twitter and Instagram accounts, resulting in over a hundred thank-you comments from students.

Check this website throughout the week and follow @whitneyupdate on Twitter for more coverage on the workshops over the next few days.