Aldershot Elementary School student Aniyah O’Neill and Noah Hines lined up for a ‘selfie’ with Elsie Morden, who brought an anti-bullying message.
©Wendy Elliott, Kingscountynews.ca
ALDERSHOT - Elsie Morden knows all about sucker punches and mean girls.
On Nov. 1, the 21-year-old got students at Aldershot Elementary School chanting the lyrics to her song about getting plowed in the face and losing a tooth.
“I know that thousands of students are begging to stay home from school because of bullying. I used to be one of them,” she said.
Morden described being left out, pushed into a sandbox and forced to eat sand. She was put down for not wearing designer label clothing and having curly hair.
Changing schools to escape the bullies, Morden started Grade 8 trying to be invisible. Once, she was invited to a sleepover, which was unusual, but when she woke in the morning, she found that someone had chopped off her ponytail.
In Grade 9, at another new school, she was kicked in the hallways and harassed via social media. Anxiety and depression left Morden wide awake at night, she said, suffering overwhelming panic attacks until she cried herself to sleep.
Recounting her past, Morden spoke of attending eight schools, being in two vehicle collisions, the family home burning down and being stuck in the middle of a store robbery.
She said she’s unable to count how many times she ate her lunch in the bathroom stalls for safety.
“No one deserves that,” Morden said. “We have to stop bullying and end mental health stigma. Do something about it. Talk to someone and make positive choices.”
Morden shared her sorrows about a childhood under relentless bullying and reassured the Aldershot classes that there is a way forward.
"I found myself turning to music, I would pick up the guitar we had at my house and I'd start strumming while scribbling my feelings and thoughts down in notebooks," she said.
"I realized that music was my outlet, it is what makes me happy - writing and performing is what I love to do and nothing or no one can take that away from me anymore."
She asked the Aldershot students what activity made them happy and they embraced her, lining up for autographs and selfies after her set.
"Music was my outlet for the hard times," Morden told her audience.
No Time for That Anti-Bullying Society, which is a registered Canadian charity, supports Morden to take her stories and music to schools free of charge. She’s made mental health awareness and bullying prevention presentations at over 450 schools across the country since 2012.
Born in Manitoba, raised there and in British Columbia, the award winner and her family recently moved to Port Williams. She says she fell in love with the Valley. On her current tour, she has backup from her dad, Ken Byrka.
Morden will be touring Atlantic Canada for the next two weeks, including Port Williams, Brooklyn and Windsor Forks in West Hants. Then she’ll be heading to Montreal, Ontario, and Manitoba.
Did you know?
Elsie Morden is an emerging country pop singer, songwriter, motivational speaker, actress, and environmentalist. She has recently released the music video for her radio single, Be Mine. The video was filmed at Hope for Wildlife near Halifax. Co-produced and written by her, Elsie’s self-titled debut full-length album was just released.
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