Photo by Bonnie Manning, Feature Photographer
When Alayna Hasty was just 9-years-old, she came up with a remarkable idea called GAB Girls, a community of girls who stand together against bullying.
Alayna says the idea for GAB Girls was inspired by a combination of things. It began when her family moved to Indiana from Toledo and a group of girls – including the school bully – began tormenting Alayna and a lot of other girls. “I was also tormented by an adult and I became very shy because I started not feeling good about myself.”
When one of her close friends was bullied and eventually left school to be home-schooled, it really bothered Alayna and made her want to be an advocate to protect her friend from hurting. “I hurt because she was hurting and I knew how it felt to be treated like that and not to have someone to protect you, even when they should be. I wanted to protect her and make her feel better,” she said.
When Alayna’s mother, a nurse and motivational speaker, overheard the two girls discussing bullying, she told her daughter while she could never stop people from being purposefully mean, she did, however, have the ability to support, encourage and help make a difference. “My parents have always supported and encouraged me to stand up for what is right, even if that means I stand alone at times. I was really frustrated and hurt for my friend. I told my parents that I needed to somehow be a part of putting an end to this bullying. I didn’t want to be a bystander and wanted to be part of the solution,” Alayna said.
That’s when GAB Girls began.
The Facebook page was started as an outreach for girls to show their uniqueness, and also to communicate and support one another all over the world. The mother and daughter team came up with the name G.A.B. Girls, an acronym for Girls Against Bullying Girls, because girls like to gab.
Alayna’s family helps as much as possible. “Mom helped me with the Facebook page and Dad was the mastermind behind my website. I asked mom to buy bracelets and t-shirts. Uncle Mike and mom helped me put workshops together. Mom also had me research and read about bullying, as well as abusive behavior, so I could learn to help others and help me understand why some people could be cruel,” she said.
In addition to GAB Girls, the local animal shelter is another place very, very close to her heart. “Mom has always told me that even one person can make a positive difference and that’s one of my main goals.”
While Alayna doesn’t seem like a typical 12-year-old girl, she says she is. “I am a typical energetic girly girl who enjoys cheerleading, writing in my journal and being with my family. I have always liked and wanted to help others. At 6-years-old I wanted to be a veterinarian, but now my goal is to become a pediatric psychiatrist. Whichever I become, I know I’ll be helping animals or people who need help. Like God says in Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do ALL things through Christ which strengthens me!’”
Alayna is very excited about her workshops and the difference she is making in the lives of others. She especially loves working with the younger girls because she believes the decision to ‘stop it’ or ‘join it’ is made at a young age. “Not only do I get to talk to the little ones about being an upstander, but I tell them that they are all princesses and read them the story, the ‘Super Dupper Princesses.’ The author has sent me autographed books to give to all the little girls.”
For more information on Alayna and GAB Girls, please visit the Facebook page, G.A.B. Girls or the website http://gabgirls.wix.com/gabgirls.