Scott and Steve Smith copy

Scott and Steve Smith

This month’s Up-Stander decided to stand up to bullying when he was ten years old.  Scott Smith, pictured here with his proud and supportive father Steve had already had some history at changing the world.  At age nine, he formed his own charity and raised $3400 for Somalian relief efforts. Scott’s decision to tackle bullying and abusive behaviours, however, came from personal experience closer to home.

By the time he entered Grade 5, says Dad “he had already been punched, kicked, spit on and insulted by abusive names. You get the idea. Yet when he started the (school Anti-Bullying) Club his primary goal was to help other kids from being bullied, not himself.”

So Scott decided to team up with others to make a difference, ranging from his classmates to champion golfer, Ernie Els, not only to stop bullying but also to help other kids with autism and Aspergers.

Scott’s deeds are all worth reading about and we’ve attached links at the end of this article that will tell you more.  His track record is amazing. Colorado, Kentucky and Saskatchewan are promoting the program he created for his classmates, Ontario’s Minister of Education wrote Scott about the work he has done, his personal story is part of Ernie Els’ website and fund-raising campaign for Autism Canada; the same story is featured on Pacer.org, an anti-bullying organization with helpful material downloaded in 185 countries.

Scott deeply inspires me with his sensitivity, compassion, values and commitment to speak his truths in every aspect of his life. So that is what I want to convey to you here, beyond just the facts of Scott’s achievements.

His Dad, Steve inspires me as well, with his infinite love and support for his son. He has taken up the cause in his own way too; to stand up for respect in the places in which we live, learn, work, and play.

Finally, the honesty and open dialogue between these two has been a great experience for me to witness through correspondence over the past six months. These exchanges have been brief, simple and direct. I want to share some of them with you. I won’t add my own take around the implicit lessons about self-esteem, charity, forgiveness, civility or even the impressions our governments are leaving on young minds. I will simply relate them as they were expressed to me.

Scott has written publicly about having Aspergers, but I wanted to be sure he would be okay with me writing about it. Steve spoke to Scott, the answer was yes and this footnote came with it.

Steve: “Actually I asked Scott if it ever bothered him having Aspergers. He looked at me like that was the silliest question I’d ever asked him. He said he was proud of it, it was part of him.”

When I wrote Steve for permission to write about Scott as an Up-Stander, I also asked if his son had other thoughts he might want to share.

Dave with Scott Smith Somalia donation 3Aug2011

Scott Smith presenting donation to Dave Toycen, President of World Vision Canada

Steve: “Beginning of December Scott told every one not to get him presents. He just wanted money to go to his charity. He said kids needed water and food more than he needed presents. Don’t shed a tear often, did then. Scott took the money in a jar to Dave Toycen, President of World Vision Canada.  He made them count it.”

Scott has been recognized in writing and in person for his accomplishments and commitment. In passing, Steve told me one particular process that Scott did not care to be part of in Ontario. The Lt. Governor receives nominations for the province’s Youth Awards. Here was Scott’s response to the idea:

Steve: “Scott was asked by a number of people if they could nominate him. He decided against it, mainly he doesn’t really feel comfortable with something like that and partly (because) he has seen Question Period, at Queens Park. With all the yelling and politicians being dramatic, it didn’t really interest him to go there. Said it didn’t seem like a good place for a kid to go. Sad, actually.”

Scott graduated into the 7th grade this year and changed schools. It has been two years since he started the program at Belfountain school and it has left a permanent impact. The link below to the article in the Caledon Enterprise explains why. He is now 12 years old.

Steve: “Scott really grew just this past year. Could probably stand up to his bullies.  Except he made a pact with himself to never hit back.  Why he retired from hockey: too nice.”

I wrote to thank Steve for his help in putting this together and my admiration for his son and the love and support that Steve provides to him. Steve’s work carries on. I asked what is next for Scott. In the understated way Steve has of expressing things, here was his answer:

Steve: “This year he’s says he’s taking a break, concentrating on school. He is only 12, and I figure for a 12 year old, he’s done pretty good.”

To say the least!

The final exchange comes from Scott himself. This email to me came well before I had even thought of him as an Up-Stander in my newsletter, and well after his Dad and I had begun talking about bullying.  I share this here because it is yet another example of how compassion and empathy guide his life so instinctively and directly.

Scott: “Hi paul. how are you my dad told me all the hard work that you did with bullying and I am very sorry about your son. I bet he would very proud of his dad. your friend scott smith”

The world would be a better place with a couple of billion more Scotts in it.

 Scott’s story in the Caledon Enterprise

Scott’s story in Els for Autisim Canada

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Ernie Els and Scott Smith

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Kells

Workplace Respect and Safety Champion, Culture Change Expert and Inspiring Speaker

Reach new standards for safe and positive workplace cultures

www.paulkells.com