Lake Forest teen Jonah Mowry, who garnered international attention with a personal YouTube video showing the world the suffering inflicted by grade-school bullying, joined a march in downtown Laguna Beach Friday to raise awareness about bullying.
Sponsored by the San Clemente-based National Association of People Against Bullying, the trek began at Main Beach, where the mostly youthful crowd waved handmade signs in an effort to earn supportive horn honks from passing cars along Coast Highway.
Eventually, the crowd began marching up Broadway and stopped at City Hall, where some of the event's organizers spoke.
Mowry famously posted this YouTube video last year in which he described the abuse he endured from bullies going back to first grade. Through index cards, he talked about contemplating suicide and self-mutilation. The video has received more than 10 million hits.
The march was organized by the group Cool 2 Be Kind, a club at San Clemente High started by friends and family of Daniel Mendez. Mendez was a San Clemente teen who also suffered abuse at the hands of bullies. He committed suicide in May 2009.
Since his death, Mendez' parents and sister have been promoting awareness of the issue through the nonprofit NAPAB.
Mendez' mother, Anna, told Patch that the reason why they decided to have the march in Laguna Beach and not San Clemente was partially because bullying isn't merely a local issue.
"This is happening all over the country," Anna Mendez said. "And Laguna Beach was much more sympathetic to our cause. They were much more accepting of our march, and they welcomed us with open arms."
NAPAB, Mendez said, aims to support—and if requested, advocate for—victims of bullying.
"We have provided and presented educational seminars to community groups and schools. We offer victim advocacy, when we will actually get involved in the individual situations. We will meet with the staff, teachers, principals, attorneys, whatever the family needs so we can advocate on their behalf," she said. "We started a foundation for services that we feel, if they had been made available to us, our son would be alive today."