By Donna Thornton/News Editor
Gadsden and Etowah County young people gathered Wednesday night for music and for a message about standing for the silent.
The Alabama Talent Company presented the Gadsden Challenge 2012 Anti-Bullying Concert to teach students about the effects of bullying and encourage them to support the other young people around them.
James M. Barrie Center Executive Director Patricia Falcon said the free concert raised money for Gadsden City Schools Community Education, the Barrie Center, the YMCA of the Coosa Valley and the Alabama Talent Hunt.
Falcon said the Gadsden schools program had an anti-bullying rally last year that brought Kirk Smalley and another speaker to the city. Smalley has a powerful story to share – of his 11-year-old son Ty, who endured bullying in school and was suspended when he tried to fight back. Ty Field-Smalley shot himself.
Smalley shares his family’s story to educate young people about the seriousness of picking on or bullying others.
He told the audience something as small as a smile in the hall, or inviting someone to sit with you at lunch could make all the difference.
“What does that cost us,” Smalley asked.
Smalley was going to be in the Gadsden area, speaking to students at city and county school Aug. 22 and 23, Falcon said.
At the same time, the Alabama Talent Hunt, which conducts talent searches and organizes regional
concerts featuring competitors, wanted to stage a concert in Gadsden to its own non-profit component and local non-profits.
In about six weeks time, Falcon said, plans came together for the concert. Falcon’s daughter, Kate, won a recording contract through a talent competition. She and three other young performers, Keegan Bost, Tory Parris and Mary Stell, performed at the concert.