Student fights bullying with nonprofit

Junior+Mahealani+Sims-Tulba+reads+her+book+to+second+grader+Leilani+Freitas.+%22It%27s+Okay+To+Be+Different%22+depicts+a+story+of+how+one+bird+overcomes+bullying.+Photo+by+Rochell+Ann+Agapay.
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Student fights bullying with nonprofit

Junior Mahealani Sims-Tulba reads her book to second grader Leilani Freitas.

Junior Mahealani Sims-Tulba reads her book to second grader Leilani Freitas. "It's Okay To Be Different" depicts a story of how one bird overcomes bullying. Photo by Rochell Ann Agapay.

Junior Mahealani Sims-Tulba reads her book to second grader Leilani Freitas. "It's Okay To Be Different" depicts a story of how one bird overcomes bullying. Photo by Rochell Ann Agapay.

Junior Mahealani Sims-Tulba reads her book to second grader Leilani Freitas. "It's Okay To Be Different" depicts a story of how one bird overcomes bullying. Photo by Rochell Ann Agapay.

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As a victim of bullying, Academy junior Mahealani Sims-Tulba looks to tell her own story and make an impact on Hawaii’s youth. She’s doing this through her nonprofit called B.R.A.V.E. Hawaii.

“I decided that I wanted to do something about bullying in the state of Hawaii because I knew that bullying was, and still is, such a big problem in our society,” said 16-year-old Sims-Tulba of Ewa Beach.

B.R.A.V.E. Hawaii is not only an anti-bullying campaign, but it is also a program that focuses on having respect for oneself, teachers, parents and the environment. The acronym B.R.A.V.E. stands for Be Respectful and Value Everyone.

When the organization received its non-profit status a few years ago, Sims-Tulba wrote and illustrated a children’s book called “It’s Okay to be Different.” The book is geared towards children in grades K-3 and tells a story of how a bird overcomes being bullied. She wrote this book as a way of dealing with her situation of being bullied as a child, in hopes of turning her negative experience into a positive one.

The non-profit partnered with the state Department of Education (DOE) and was able to reach out to more than 20,000 students last year. Although Sims-Tulba lives on Oahu, she still makes an effort to work with groups on the neighbor islands. 

Sims-Tulba holds the title of Miss Hawaii Junior High School America 2013 and has been presented with the Presidential Volunteer Service Gold Level Award by President Barack Obama. She has also been recognized by Hawaii’s state government for her dedication to bringing her anti-bullying message statewide.

“I hope that someday B.R.A.V.E. Hawaii can build a learning center,” she said. “I would love to have counselors and teachers available and a place where kids feel safe and learn new skills.”

For more information on B.R.A.V.E. Hawaii, visit  http://www.bravehawaii.org/.