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Students 'Mojo Up'

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By MARY KECK
Correspondent

Travis Brown, also known as Mr. Mojo, spoke to students at North Posey and Mount Vernon high schools about leadership and bullying on Tuesday, Aug. 23. A native of West Lafayette, Brown, defines mojo as “having a positive attitude, positive energy, and getting positive results.” Wearing a camouflage T-shirt with the words “Operation Mojo” printed on the front, he delivered a high-energy talk with a “message for bullies, bullied, and bystanders” in an effort to “make it cool to be a leader.”
Mr. Mojo’s speech covered physical, verbal, and cyber bullying and focused on difference.  He asked, “What happens when someone doesn’t meet your normal?” Then, he challenged the students to learn to tolerate differences. They repeated his words in unison, “I’m different and I’m cool with that! Different means different – that’s all.”
Brown also discussed F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) as an enabler of bullying. He believes students are afraid to stand up against bullies because they might become a target. His response is “Mojo Up!” This call for leadership was not lost on the audience. Allison Koester, a junior at North Posey High, said she could relate to Brown’s message, because “some students will act out to help, but some won’t out of fear, just like he said.”
During his talk, Mr. Mojo explained that he had personal experience with bullying, “I got haters too!” Yet, he was sympathetic toward bullies saying, “You got pain. You hurt, but healing comes from helping, not hurting.” He went on to explain, “we have the power to hurt, but we also have the power to help.” Again the students’ voices echoed Brown’s: “I am in control! I am a leader! I believe in me! I will Mojo Up!”
Dean of students Erin Koester was very pleased with the assembly. “[Brown] was excellent at keeping their attention,” she said. While no particular incidents sparked this anti-bullying convocation, Koester felt “it was important to start out the school year with something positive. When you make that message clear, you have fewer problems later.” North Posey High School has a no-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying, Koester added, noting that faculty will follow-up on Brown’s talk in their homerooms.
Brown began his national Anti-Bullying Tour on Aug. 2 and plans to visit other area schools. He believes bullying is different today than it was when he was young.
“It is less physical, more verbal, and it gets magnified in the cyber world. Bullying comes in forms we never had to deal with because it isn’t over at 3 p.m. when you get off the school bus.”
After the program, Mr. Mojo pointed out that two Indiana teens had committed suicide this year because of bullying. “If I can save one kid, that’s all I need.”
He hopes that when students “walk out into the hallways, they think ‘I can make a difference.’” To find out more about Operation Mojo, you can go to www.nobullyingtour.com.