Called "the ugly Mexican girl” by bullies, this beautiful Florida child (10) builds back confidence by performing cultural music and dance!
Gisselle was surprised with 718 empathetic letters of support and 180 "letter points" of personalized gifts on February 12, 2021, at her home in Florida! Thank you to the Children's Home Society of Florida for bringing our attention to this amazing girl, and "Young Sheldon" actor Iain Armitage for contributing his heartfelt video of support to the surprise video (below)!
Watch the Surprise Delivery:
~ GISSELLE'S STORY ~
Gisselle's mom describes her as “talented, creative and expressive” – and a wonderful big sister to three younger girls, ages 8, 6 and 4. She first noticed a change in her daughter starting in the 2nd Grade. The normally confident, active girl began doubting herself and asking for constant reassurance. She would say, “All the children say I am ugly….” And ask, “Mami, am I pretty?” She would often cry when she got home and she started refusing to go to school.
Her teacher noticed changes, too - that Gisselle would arrive to class with tears in her eyes, and didn’t really want to be in school, but she would not say why. Gisselle would avoid visiting the school cafeteria. Instead, she would ask her teacher to be allowed to remain in the classroom while her peers ate and played at recess.
The mom contacted the school and together, they decided to send the 3rd Grader to counseling at the Children’s Home Society. As is typical of most bullied children, Gisselle did not know how to talk about the hurt she was feeling.
After weeks of counseling, Gisselle finally opened up and began telling Marla Green, a clinical counselor with the Children’s Home Society, about the on-going cruelty she was enduring at school. There was a bunch of girls who would tease her, tell her she was “ugly” and that her parents were “ugly Hispanics” – and refer to her socially as “the ugly Mexican girl.” On a few occasions, they also threatened to beat her.
THIS YOUTUBE INTRODUCTION OF GISSELLE by our On-Air Super Teen Ambassador, Brielle Withers, is a good choice for young students to learn her story:
Everyday, Gisselle went to school with tears in her eyes. She told Reporter Erika Rakow of WPTV5/West Palm Beach in Florida:
“Those girls bullied me every time, every time when I went to recess or everywhere, they always looked at me and stared at me.”
And she acknowledges now how hard it was to find the words to tell an adult what was happening to her. “(Adults) would always tell me, if you have something to tell me, just tell me, don’t keep it a secret. But I always came very sad and I did not say nothing. I just sat like this (with head down) and cried.”
The counselor and Gisselle worked together to explore healthy coping skills that empowered her Mexican roots like singing and dancing to her favorite American-Mexican icon, Selena Quintana, who also overcame bullying in school.
Marla Green told the WPTV5 Reporter: “Selena was Gisselle’s mentor, culturally. Selena sustained bullying and teasing growing up, too, and Gisselle felt able to identify with Selena. I suggested that she do a Selena video for our website … Two weeks later a beautiful video showed up in my email and it was incredible to see the courage, the pride."
Gisselle’s bullies continued their torment until COVID19 closed the school’s doors at the end of 3rd Grade. Since, the students have been learning remotely, so the bullying has paused – hopefully forever. Now in 4th Grade, Giselle continues to zoom with her counselor weekly, learning how to feel beautiful inside and out, and to express her heritage proudly through singing and dancing - like her idol, Selena.
Most remarkable about this motivated 10-year-old is her excitement to inspire other kids to find their voice, which is what inspired a local TV News story. Gisselle wants to show other kids that it’s okay to speak up and talk about their adversities in order to overcome it. Gisselle told the Reporter during a Zoom interview:
“With my singing, I can help them. If they see me on the video, they will say, ‘Oh maybe I will try the same thing.”
Gisselle’s mom says her daughter would want “all children to know that things should never be like this! We are all equal. Our race, color and ethnicity do not matter. We are the same.”
Gisselle’s favorite thing to do is listen to Selena’s music while singing and dancing to each of her songs. Gisselle’s biggest dream is to someday be able to visit Selena’s Museum in Corpus Christi, Texas. She also enjoys drawing and reading stories from the bible.
Gisselle is bilingual and fluent in reading, speaking and singing in both English and Spanish!! Smart!
AMBASSADORS – we can bring the PEER SUPPORT and FRIENDSHIP to Gisselle that she has not experienced at school, but yet is so willing to give to others that may be hurting, feeling alone and “less than.” We want to reward her hard work at reaching deep to embrace her Mexican heritage as a way to build back her confidence and find her voice. We can reward this girl’s work and heart with kindness and support FROM OTHER KIDS AND TEENS – to show her she is FRIEND STRONG and is succeeding at MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!
Watch Gisselle's Complete Performance:
THE DUE DATE FOR GISSELLE'S LETTERS EXTENDED TO JANUARY 11TH!
Friend Mail must arrive in our NY office for review by the Due Date to be included in the surprise delivery!
Send physical letters to:
Be A Friend Project
449 Lane Gate Road
Cold Spring, NY 10516
Letters on email or for videos, scans & Google Drive links, send to: