Billboard's “Artist to Watch” 2018, Jessie Chris, was in Western New York this week to share her anti-bullying message with students at schools across the region. On Tuesday, she went to Emmet Middle School in Lockport, along with the Kurzdorfer family, which started Devin's Message Foundation.
Chris was bullied as a teen and has been a proud supporter and one of the faces of Disney’s #ChooseKindness anti-bullying campaign. She spoke and performed at school assemblies.
"I feel being with the kids today helped them relate to our message of bullying," Chris said. "I hope my message gives them hope of never giving up."
Devin's Message Foundation has brought national speakers to Western New York schools to instill kindness, confidence and coping skills children and teens need to combat bullying. Founder of Devin's Message, Joe Smajdor, said he was thrilled with the amount of support the foundation has received from the community, and is happy to see the difference the foundation is making.
"Jessie blew the kids away today at Emmet Middle," Smajdor said. "We are grateful to her and her family for touring the country and sharing their positive and important messages with these children and teens."
Devin's Message Foundation was founded by the family of Devin Kurzdorfer, a Kenmore student who took his own life in 2017 after years of bullying. The foundation raises funds to implement anti-bullying programs in schools across Western New York. This year, the foundation has brought national speakers such as Brooks Gibbs into schools to deliver uplifting, confidence-building, anti-bullying messages. The foundation also began offering scholarships to students entering college who volunteer with the foundation at fundraisers and promote anti-bullying messages at their high school among their peers.