“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ~ Mr. Rodgers
Since 2014 Real Women of Gaming has been hosting the You’re Not Alone Anti-bullying Project, kicked off yearly with a Philadelphia area event that includes raffles, all day streaming, games, comics, and cosplayers. Margot, Anna, Bridget, and the crew have been active champions for the cause online and off, and I caught up with them at this year’s event to talk about the project and what it means to the community.
What was the catalyst that brought about the You’re Not Alone project?
Several years ago a friend of mine was talking about how her daughter was being bullied at school and it was affecting her mental state. Being a victim of bullying myself, I reached out. I didn’t know what I could do but I wanted to do something. I had to do something.
I reached out about maybe taking her to lunch. Talking to her, telling her she wasn’t alone in this. However, my brain wouldn’t let it go. There has to be more that can be done. Bullying is an epidemic and suicide is the in the top 5 causes of death in teens. That is unacceptable.
First I thought about making a video, bringing awareness to the problem. I contacted as many people as I could, begged and poked, enlisted the help of friends. That wasn’t enough. So I decided to raise money for charity. Someone who could do more than I could.
We teamed up with Uncanny! in the King of Prussia Mall, contacted more friends and kicked off the first You’re Not Alone where we premiered our video. This is our fourth year, we’ve raised thousands. We bring awareness, we bring fun, we try to help people realize that it’s worse than they think, that there is a otherside to bullying, but things can get better.
But until this epidemic is squashed and suicide rates among children are down, we will never feel like it’s enough.
How does the event help the community?
We hope that along with awareness, people can open up about their experiences. Children can see that it can get better. We hope that we can get the appropriate information into the hands that need them the most.
Why do you think gaming and community service is a good fit? It can be hard to make friends. When you feel abandoned and alone, it gets harder to look forward anything. I escaped into video games. That lead to Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and online gaming. There I made friends, I connected with people like me – bullied, depressed, feeling alone.
Gaming, any kind of gaming, brings people together. We get so much support from gaming and cosplay communities because they’ve been there. They want to stand up against it. They strive to be the person they needed when they were bullied.
How have people been receptive to the event? I get a lot of hugs! It’s one of my favorite parts. People also jump at the chance to participate in anyway they can. Most years I have more volunteers than I know what to do with but they all make the experience amazing. I’ve had teenagers & parents walk up and hand us money. ‘Thanks, we just want to help’ is what I hear most. Those are my super heroes, people who just want to help. And remember, You’re Not Alone.
You can donate to You are Not Alone through the link at RWOG. This year’s event raised over 1000 dollars for to help in the fight against bullying. Anti-Bullying resources:
Real Women of Gaming is hosting Charities & Champions, a 12 hour Dungeons and Dragons event, to support Philadelphia Children’s hospital on September 22.