The sad truth about childhood is that most kids encounter bullying in some form. Either they witness it happening to others, or have it happen to them. From verbal insults and physical altercations to the latest trend, online and social media bullying, kids often have to dig deep and find courage to combat abuse from their peers. But one determined kid is fighting the bullying epidemic with every bone in his 11-year old body — and he’s inspiring others to do the same.
Dom Peters, a 5th-grader at Willamette Valley Christian School in Brooks, Oregon, has a brand new title as of January 8 — the day he was sworn in as Oregon’s kid governor. His platform? To fight bullying.
Founded in the state of Connecticut, the national Kid Governor Program encourages students to learn about government and develop a platform through which they can enact change for the greater good. This year, the state of Oregon decided to elect their own for the very first time — and based on Peters’ platform, it’s pretty clear what matters to voters most.
According to The Oregonian, the first annual kid governor contest asked Oregon’s youth to record a short video at home on a topic of their choice. They also had to complete several civics lessons before applying. Peters then went up against eight finalists before he was elected to his one-year term by fellow 5th-graders from across the state.
And kudos to the state of Oregon, for his swearing in ceremony was quite official: Secretary of State Dennis Richardson gave a lecture on the executive branch of government, Senator Peter Courtney spoke on the legislative branch, and Paul De Muniz, former justice of the Oregon Supreme Court, lectured on the judicial branch.
The event also included “a full invocation, live rendition of the national anthem and a presentation of the colors by a local Boy Scouts troop,” The Oregonian reports, with Peters’ family, friends, and classmates standing nearby to cheer him on.
Clad in a three-piece suit, Kid Governor Peters gave his inaugural address, through which he highlighted his platform to combat bullying, sharing that he, himself, has been a victim. Peters also highlighted his “three-point plan”, which includes writing a book and encouraging his peers to write books as well. You guys — an 11-year-old … with a three-point plan. I see a future grown-up governor in the works, people!
Peters tells Babble that he’s experienced bullying in the form of verbal abuse as well as physical, even coming home with a black eye once. He also says that he witnessed a friend “getting beat up” once and immediately ran between the two kids, told his friend to run away, and held the bully back.
“I told him to stop and said I’d tell his parents and our coaches if he didn’t stop,” he shares with Babble.
What courage that is.
One of the ways Peters plans to combat this problem in his school is to share a book that he’s currently writing. He tells Babble that his book is about a puppy who is hurting inside, but once everyone learns of his pain, they are kind to him and he learns to be kind back. He also shares that he has started a club at his school called the “Super Kind Helpers Club” and reports that many of his schoolmates have joined. The club meets at recess to practice kindness and ensure that everyone has someone to play with.
Wow. I’d bet quite a few grown-ups could learn a thing or two from this kid.
The Oregonian reports that Peters admitted to being nervous at his inauguration, “probably not unlike how real governors feel on their first day in office.” But, don’t worry. He’s remained humble, despite his new political title.
“I don’t want people to think I have a lot of authority,” he said. “I’m just a kid.”
But what a kid you are, Dom Peters. Thank you for choosing this platform one that impacts kids around the world. They will look to you for encouragement and leadership. But it sounds like you’re ready for the job.
To learn more about the Kid Governor Program and how you can start one in your state, visit CT.KidGovernor.org now.