Articles

Hawkeye Student to Speak at Governor's Bullying Prevention Summit

By: Andrew Wind, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
Date Published: Monday, November 19, 2012
 
Michelle Lane

Waterloo Mother Joins Governor's Anti-Bullying Panel Summit

WATERLOO, Iowa --- Michelle Lane's son, Jesse, was bullied in school.

Mental disabilities made him a target, according to his mother. Some students at West High, the school that Jesse graduated from last spring, manipulated him out of money or prized video games. Others promised friendship if he did something unreasonable or outrageous, like drink from a toilet.

"He's faced it throughout school," Lane said.

Jesse usually didn't understand that people were mistreating him. He was diagnosed with tuberous sclerosis complex at 2-months-old and has a brain tumor and lesions on his kidneys. He also has been diagnosed with a number of other conditions, including disruptive behavior disorder, paranoia and mild mental retardation.

Lane, who has spent her life advocating for Jesse, will share her insights during a panel discussion Nov. 27 at the Governor's Bullying Prevention Summit. The event at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines will be hosted by Gov. Terry Branstad.

Speakers include Sioux City Schools Superintendent Paul Gausman, whose district was among those featured in the documentary, "Bully," and Rosalind Wiseman, a parenting and bullying expert whose book became the basis for another film, "Mean Girls."

Four other speakers will moderate two morning and two afternoon panel discussions in breakout sessions. Barbara Coloroso will lead the Culture of Mean. The panel will include Lane.

Coloroso is author of "The Bullied, the Bully and the Bystander."

For information about the summit, go online at preventbullying.iowa.gov.

Lane said her invitation to join the panel "just kind of happened." She had contacted organizers to tell them they needed to include a voice about bullying of disabled children.

"They asked me to do it, and I was going to the summit anyway," Lane said.

She noted Jesse's teachers were "really phenomenal." They helped get Jesse moved from mainstream classes into a self-contained classroom where he had more one-one-one time.

Since graduating, Jesse has moved out of the house he shared with Lane and her husband, Bob. He lives in a staffed Goodwill Industries group home with two other men.

Lane, who works for the Iowa Department of Human Services, had already started doing some public speaking about her son, bullying and resources for families dealing with mental illness. She created a presentation for her marriage and family class at Hawkeye Community College, where she's earning an associate's degree in business. She later reworked it for an honors project and has since made the presentation several times, including last week to a group of Hawkeye students and faculty.

"I started doing it because I want people to open their mind and understand," Lane said.

She hopes people walk away from her presentations with a better understanding of mental illness and the strains faced by caregivers.

"I can't reach from here and change the world, but every little ripple makes a difference."

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier