A motivational magician and a bullying-versed author will lead two local events Tuesday to put a spotlight on bullying and how schools and the community can deal with it.
Charlie Myrick is scheduled to perform 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at Cedar Hill Elementary School. Myrick is billed as "The Motivational Master of Magic."
A promotional flyer notes Myrick will share his story of "growing up with a disability, bullied by classmates and thanks to his third-grade teacher became a World Champion." Myrick "leaves students with a message to believe in themselves and their abilities to follow their dreams."
Myrick, a native of Chillicothe, said children with disabilities were treated differently in classrooms when he was growing up in the 1950s, but his third-grade teacher bucked that norm and inspired him to greatness.
Myrick said he developed his talent and showmanship in magic and escape artistry by performing in schools; "that's where I really perfected my craft." By 1976, he was a world champion escape artist who could break out of a straitjacket of the kind used by the Gestapo — Nazi German secret police.
He doesn't do that trick anymore, not being quite as limber as he used to be. He's performed in shows for about 40 years, including in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and other countries including Japan, as well as on TV shows like ABC's "Good Morning America."
Sen. Kit Bond recognized him on the floor of Congress in October 2002, citing then that Myrick had performed in schools for more than 6 million children over the course of his career up to that point; current promotional material list 8 million children in schools around the world.
"(Myrick) inspires and motivates children to pursue their dreams while challenging parents to support and encourage their children in this pursuit," Bond said.
"The way that you intertwined a positive message with magic had the students and teachers mesmerized," Principal Kim Murdock said in an undated letter from Morgan County R-2 Elementary School in Versailles. Myrick said he performed there last spring.
He used to incorporate anti-gang and anti-drug messages in his acts for schools but said within the past year, he's brought in anti-bullying messages. "It comes from the heart," drawing from his own experiences, he said — "that was me, I've been bullied."
He said he's never performed in Jefferson City before, but "would love to get the ear of the First Lady (Sheena Greitens)," who he's invited to attend Tuesday. He would like to focus on Missouri schools for his future performances.
Cedar Hill said his performance Tuesday will be open to the school community, meaning parents and grandparents of students are welcome.
A different kind of anti-bullying event is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the gym of St. Stanislaus School in Wardsville.
Jodee Blanco will give a free seminar open to the public on school bullying survival and prevention. Blanco is a New York Times bestselling author of four books on bullying, including "Please Stop Laughing at Me: One Woman's Inspirational True Story." She's also an anti-bullying activist and broadcast and cable TV commentator.
Her seminar "will include a 90-minute workshop featuring (her) compelling personal story of her struggle from fifth grade through high school as the target of severe school bullying. She will share what her parents and teachers did that helped, what didn't and why, as well as offer similar insights from the tens of thousands of bullied students she has worked with across the nation," according to a news release.
"The workshop will also include specific, practical advice on how to intervene if a child is the victim, bully or bystander, from the rare point of view of someone who's actually lived through it and now dedicated her life to helping others."
In addition to helping children, the seminar will feature "insights into the plight of the 'adult survivor of peer abuse' and suggestions on how to overcome those open wounds from the past."
Families are encouraged to attend and will have the opportunity to speak with Blanco after the presentation. She will also sign copies of "Please Stop Laughing at Me" after the presentation.