LEON, W.Va. — David Wells knows what it feels like to be bullied.
During a special assembly Friday afternoon at Leon Elementary School, the Grammy-nominated musician, co-host of a national radio show Chocolate Jazz Radio Network and concert promoter spoke to students about bullying, his experiences with it, and how friends, teachers and parents can help stop it.
“Being in the band wasn’t the most popular thing to do,” Well said. “I was often criticized, bullied and had low self-esteem, but through perseverance and hard work, I’m living my dream.”
Wells, who has also visited several schools in southeastern Ohio, entertained the students with a mellow fluglehorn performance of “Hallelujah” and other tunes while videos focusing on bullying played in the background.
Wells also brought four teachers to the front and had them attempt to play a note on a trumpet. The teachers who either played a note, or attempted to do so, were kindergarten teacher Jocelyn Casto, first-grade teacher Samantha Faber, third-grade teacher Pam Hay — who, it should be noted, received the loudest applause from the young audience and who flashed a “sign of the horns,” a popular rock concert hand gesture — and fifth-grade teacher Tate Hayman.
Wells travels to public schools across the nation, with his trumpet and other instruments, in hopes of putting an end to the bullying epidemic sweeping the country.
Wells has been playing the trumpet since he was 9 years old and has released 14 albums within the span of his musical career. He is endorsed by Conn/Selmer (largest band manufacturing company) as a national performer and has shared the stage with top artists in the “Smooth Jazz” genre.
He is founder of a national syndicated radio show currently in 20 different markets across the country. Wells also is the founder of several music festivals such as the Vienna Rib and Jazz Festival, Nashville Rib and Jazz Festival, and the Bowling Green Rib and Music Festival, which will be held in 2016.
Wells has accomplished much during his career, but as a musician he wanted to influence and inspire the younger generation by going into the public schools and speaking about the power of music, achieving dreams, and most importantly, putting an end to bullying.
Traveling to high schools, middle schools and elementary schools across the country, Wells has one main goal — to inspire teenagers and children to be kind to one another, to always stick up for what you believe in and to never be afraid to speak out.
- 1 out of 3 kids are bullied every day of the school year;
- 1 out of 5 kids do the bullying;
- Over 160,000 kids don’t go to school because their afraid of being bullied;
- 64 percent of children who are bullied do not report it, and only 36 percent actually report being bullied;
- School-based bullying prevention programs decrease bullying up to 25 percent (McCallion and Feder, 2013);
- 1 out of 4 students report being bullied during the school year (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2015).
Wells said he wants to get the word out to the public and put an end to bullying, and hopefully have the students believe in the power of music as much as he does.
Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.