Hamilton Star Javier Munoz and Hoda Kotb Want to ‘Stomp Out Bullying’

The roster of media mavens, moguls and boldface names spotted today at Michael's.

Diane Clehane and Ross Ellis with Stomp Out Bullying's new mascot, Kind

DianeClehaneLunch_FeaturedEvery Wednesday at Michael’s there is always an elephant in the room. Exhibit A: Roger Ailes, who made a rare appearance earlier this summer just days after being ousted at Fox News. This week’s pachyderm was of the plush variety and came with Ross Ellis, founder and CEO of Stomp Out Bullying, the country’s leading anti-bullying organization which has some serious celebrity supporters, including Taye Diggs, Elizabeth Olsen, Hoda Kotb and Hamilton star Javier Munoz (all of whom have shot PSAs) and The New York Jets organization.

Diane Clehane and Ross Ellis with Stomp Out Bullying's new mascot, Kind
Diane Clehane and Ross Ellis with Stomp Out Bullying’s new mascot, Kind

Fresh off an appearance this morning on Fox 5’s Street Talk, Ross plucked the adorable stuffed toy out of the shopping bag she was carrying and sat it on our table and said, “This is ‘Kind’ and he’s about to go viral.”

The toy is the mascot of Stomp Out Bullying’s new campaign to foster kindness in kids. ‘Kind’ will be superimposed on images from all over the world and posted on social media by a variety of influencers encouraging followers to guess where he is. “We’ve got to get kids talking about kindness and this is a fun new way to do it,” said Ross as we settled in for lunch.

After we got our order out of the way (chicken paillard for her; roasted beet salad for me), she got down to business. Next month is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month which is always observed on the first Monday of October. Here in the city, The Empire State Building will be lit all in blue on Oct. 3. This year for the 11th anniversary of Stomp Out Bullying she said, “Our big push is on kindness. It’s critical to teach kids about kindness and spread the message around the world given current events. “

Since Ross founded Stomp Out Bullying in 2005, it has grown from a small grassroots effort to become the standard bearer as the go-to organization and authoritative source on bullying and cyber-bullying. It started as a small initiative as part of Ross’s other charity, Love Our Children USA. “When we put something on the website [about bullying], it crashed two days later. I knew we were on to something.” Today, said Ross, “I’m amazed that we’ve become the most influential anti-bullying organization out there.”

I’m not. Thanks to Ross’ tireless efforts to build awareness (all while selling swanky million dollar properties for Halstead Property here in Manhattan), Stomp Out Bullying has helped over 5 million kids and teens resolve bullying situations. The organization’s HelpChat Line for kids who have been bullied, cyber-bullied or at risk for suicide has reached over 55,000 students and helped save countless lives.

Ross told me Stomp Out Bullying receives over 1,000 emails a day about issues surrounding bullying as well as a stream of non-stop calls. Some are adults — who aren’t calling about a child. “They just want to talk to someone about something that happened to them,” said Ross. “But we only handle children’s up to the age of 24.” But she does offer these words of wisdom to adults who were bullied as a child, tween or teen: “Don’t let what happened to you as a child define who you are as an adult.”

Anyone who was bullied back in the day, can recall the relief of getting off the bus and taking emotional shelter in their home after school. Thanks to cyber-bullying, today’s kids don’t have that option. “The internet is great for kids to learn and to stay connected to friends and family but when they are bullied on social media it all stops,” said Ross. “It is up to parents to raise digitally responsible children.” All of this is part of the overall message of Blue Shirt Day® World Day of Bullying Prevention™.

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