The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

March 13, 2014

STOP BULLYING

Group seeks end to violence

Thursday, March 13, 2014 — Rising pop artists Austin Porter and Lexi Noel came together for their first joint performance Friday night.

At All 4 Fun’s Teen Night in Albemarle, the dynamic duo teamed up to share both their passion for music and their mission to stop bullying.

While it may be hard to imagine now that both of the young artists have released an album and have more than 600,000 combined views on their YouTube videos, they both know what it is like to feel left out and unloved due to bullying.

“When I was younger I was bullied,” Porter said.

“It was the pits. It was really bad. It’s not a place you want to be.”

Noel said her freshman year of high school she actually had to switch schools because the bullying there had become so intense.

“I don’t think kids always realize that what you say matters,” Noel said.

“It sticks in your head and your mind. You really start thinking about it.”

Lexi, of Atlanta, Ga., has been working with the NO BULL Challenge group for a while, going on tours to high schools and middle schools to perform and raise awareness about the harm bullying can do.

Porter, an artist from Mt. Pleasant, is a supporter of Stop Bullying Now who performed at an anti-bullying and anti-violence concert hosted by Think2xTwice.

When Porter and Noel met for the first time at a teen music event in Nashville, Tenn., they decided to pool their efforts and do something together.

The event in Albemarle is the first of several joint performances they hope to make on stages from North Carolina to Florida, many of which will focus on anti-bullying.

“I just want to help kids realize what their words can do,” Noel said.

“Any time I get a chance to raise awareness, I want to do it,” Porter said.

It was a message and an idea that resonated with local teens.

North Stanly High School students Zoe Burris and Julianna Shue said they have both seen or experienced bullying themselves.

“I think it’s becoming a serious problem,” Burris said.

“Kids can kill themselves over it.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in 4,400 deaths a year.

“It’s important to talk to people about it because we don’t want to end lives,” Burris said.

Burris and Shue said they have seen their school trying to promote that kind of awareness this year.

“We put up posters about it at the beginning of the year,” Burris said.

“There’s a Safe Club that does pizza parties and stuff so kids can have fun and make friends,” Shue said.

They were glad to see that Porter and Noel were supporting that cause as well.

“That’s why we want to do it,” Porter said.

After acting as DJs for the first part of the night, Noel and Porter performed covers as well as some of their own music.

Though the crowd was a bit shy at first, Noel was soon pulling up girls to sing with her and Porter was dancing right along with the rest of them.

Kylie Hathcock, 11, said she had not heard any of Noel’s music before that night, but she loved it.

“She was so cool,” Hathcock said.

“The way she wasn’t afraid of anything and she just pulled people up there.”

Traci Young Fant, CEO of Think2xTwice, was proud of the two young performers for being so willing to open themselves up to this.

“I met Austin at one of our events. He’s a great kid,” she said.

“They’re both great kids.”

Fellow Think2xTwice supporters Ikonic Realm came out to the show with Fant to show their support by doing some pop dance improv for the crowd.

“I’m a firm believer in kids helping kids and kids seeing kids do good things,” Fant said.

“So many of us [at Think2xTwice] come from tough backgrounds, abuse, gangs. We know why this is important.”

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanlynewspress.com.

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