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John Wetten Elementary School joins nationwide craftivist movement against bullying.

Gladstone parent Lindsey Anderson has taken a unique approach to fight bullying: knitting blue hats for children and encouraging others to do the same.

She joined Hat Not Hate, part of the nationwide craftivist movement, after learning from her son Thomas that his friend was bullied. In December 2019, she and her friends knit 30 hats, enough for each child in Thomas's third grade class. At that time, she vowed to return with a hat for every single student at John Wetten Elementary.PHOTO COURTESY: GLADSTONE SCHOOL DISTRICT - Fifth graders at John Wetten Elementary show off the hats they received from the Hat Not Hate project.

This month she made good on that ambitious promise, presenting more than 620 hats to John Wetten Elementary, enough for each student and staff member. The hats were knitted by Anderson, dozens of local knitters and Hat Not Hate knitters across the nation.

With each hat came a lesson about the importance of helping others feel included, and how to stop bullying. This happened during the school's first live virtual assembly, with each classroom tuning into a school-wide Zoom call.

"If you notice bullying, you can be an upstander and work to stop it, even if adults aren't around," Vice Principal Lori Buchanan told the children. "We can all help others by doing this."

Fifth graders shared tips on how to fight bullying. "If someone's bullying another person, just tell them to stop," one advised. Another said, "You should try to be a good friend to someone who's been bullied. Show them you care."

"Students love their new hats, and are proud to join the anti-bullying movement," Buchanan said. "We're so excited to be part of this."

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