This is a guest post from Aime Hutton, a 5-time international best-selling author/compiler.
So, who am I? I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but I grew up in Pickering, Ontario, Canada.
Growing up, school was not a safe space for me. School is supposed to be a happy place for kids. A place where they can learn, meet new friends, and develop their self confidence. I had the complete opposite experience. As a 1st through 3rd graders, I was happy to be going to school. By 3rd grade, I had made a few close friends. However, in 3rd grade, things changed as well. I started to have problems in my studies and was really struggling with basic core subjects like spelling, grammar, math, and comprehension. My teacher noticed it as well. She had a meeting with my parents, guidance counselor, and the principal. The academic team wanted me to move into a special education class for the remainder of my time in elementary school. The academic team said I would never learn to write well, that I would have struggles in all areas of my studies, and be the C student, never the A student. My parents disagreed. and advocated for me to be pulled out from time to time for extra help. That is how she will get through the year. I ended up repeating 3rd grade.
That was when the trouble started. I was seen as the ‘new’ girl in the class, even though I grew up going to the same school as the other students in the class. My second year of 3rd grade was when the bullying started. I was laughed at when I opened my mouth in class to answer a question. I was laughed at when I tried to participate in gym class. I was called names such as stupid, ugly, dumb, retarded, and a loser on a daily basis, the entire time I was at school.
I thought it couldn’t get any worse until I got to 7th grade.
In 7th grade, I was in a grade 7/8 split. I was physically attacked and assaulted in the girl’s locker room. An 8th grade girl came up behind me and grabbed me by my bra strap and flung me around in circles. All I could hear was cackling laughter by the one who grabbed me as well as the other girls laughing along with her. When she let go, I went flying into the lockers. I was battered and bruised, but I had no clue who hurt me. I was so afraid to say anything because I didn’t want it to happen again. The gym teacher finally came into the room, but I said nothing. From that point on, I changed in the bathroom as I was afraid for my safety.
I didn’t feel safe at school, so I looked for a safe space and for someone to help me outside of my home. I found it in Girl Guides of Canada. My Pathfinder leader is who stands out in my heart as one who supported me when I was struggling. Every week, I would dress in my Pathfinders’ striped navy/white blouse and navy skirt. Each week, Tracy greeted with a smile. I had the feeling of safety. I was not going to be picked on or teased. Each of us was encouraged and celebrated, as we worked together as a team. Pathfinders was my safe space. With Tracy’s belief in me, I started to believe in myself again. She also encouraged me to volunteer. I started volunteering with a Brownie Unit with girls who ranged in age between 6 and 8 years old. Each week, I helped the Brownie Unit come together as one group.
With this new strength, I managed to get through my 8th grade. The daily bullying and name calling was relentless. I was laughed at when I was wearing my Pathfinder uniform to school on World Thinking Day on Feb. 22. I was laughed at and told that my dream of becoming a lifeguard would never happen.
Somehow, I graduated.
I was even awarded the Most Improved Student Award for our 8th grade class. Years later, when I was 16, I did become a lifeguard and swim instructor.
I know many young female students are being bullied, unsure of who they are at their core. I know that many girls are struggling with self confidence and self esteem. I have chosen to use my crazy messy experience to help educators of young female students to facilitate their own safe spaces.
I invite you to reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions, or comment on what you have read. I am here to serve you!
Aime Hutton is a true miracle survivor. Being born three months early was just the start of the challenges Aime has overcome in her lifetime. Hailing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, as a Youth Diversity Advisor, Aime helps educators facilitate safe spaces for young female students so they can instill connection, inclusion, and courage in themselves. As a 5-time international best-selling author/compiler, Aime shares hope, healing, and inspiration through her writing. She was a finalist for the International Femtor Awards 2015 for eWomenNetwork in the category of Business Matchmaker from Dallas, Texas, USA, being 1 of 6 in North America, and the only Canadian. In 2017 Aime was awarded the Peace & Friendship Award by Diversity Magazine in Alberta for being one who celebrates, accepts, and learns from the Indigenous people of Canada.