After enduring years of bullying, 12-year-old Iyanni Pradia found her voice and is using it to make a difference for others.
In early 2016, while most kids were pondering their spring break plans, the enterprising pre-teen launched The Million Kids March Nationwide Anti-Bullying Movement to bring awareness to the issue of bullying and sound a call of action at the federal level in Washington to open a national dialogue on the subject.
The vision to launch the march came to her in a dream which she shared with her mother. “I told my Mom I want to do a Million Kids March against bullying and she just sat there for a moment, and then she asked how I would bring a million kids to Washington D.C. and I told her it would be virtual,” said Iyanni.
Her mother’s initial reaction was a mix of shock and amazement at the magnitude of the undertaking. “When I first heard about her dream, the core of my body was shaken and I thought it was just amazing to think that she wanted to stop bullying at such a large level at such a young age,” said her mother, Lisa Pradia.
Soon the mother/daughter duo set out on a 20-hour road trip to share Iyanni’s vision in Washington where the pair met with U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee who listened to her story and championed her efforts.
Iyanni shared her experience of being bullied over a two-year period and the impact it had on her life. “I was bullied when I went to school and in more than one school. My prescription eyeglasses were taken and other personal things. I couldn’t understand,” said Iyanni.
The diplomatic 12 year old was able to befriend her bully and discover some of the motivations behind her aggressive behavior. “I may have been a victim, but I learned to have empathy for the bully because there is always a reason. I learned that her parents were going through a divorce and she said it seemed I was very happy and had everything. I explained that everyone has problems and issues but being a bully doesn’t solve anything,” shared Iyanni.
The experience motivated, Iyanni, also a budding fashion designer, to host her first anti-bullying initiative, A Winter Lights Fashion Show Gala in December 2014. During the show, she launched an anti-bullying-themed fashion line and shared her hopes of donating proceeds from sales of her fashions to local schools to support their anti-bullying efforts.
“I created a line of aprons because I could express positive words on the front and now I have extended it to a full line. I hope everyone will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed designing it. It is my wish that anyone who is a bully will understand you can channel your thoughts or anger into something positive,” said Iyanni.
The multi-faceted social activist and fashion designer recently celebrated the launch of her full line of anti-bullying themed fashions at a history-making fashion event at the Houston Children’s Museum. The show marked the first time an individual has been given the opportunity to book the entire museum for an event.
The child prodigy, with an old soul, who has been making moves in a number of arenas since announcing to her mother at the age of 3 that she was going to be bigger than ‘Bonsay’ (Beyoncé), is currently filming, directing and acting in her first movie, entitled, “Our Christmas Story.” The film, shot and produced in conjunction with Michael Sterling Films, is the first movie project under Iyanni Pradia Productions.
“I can see myself on the level of a Tyler Perry and an Oprah Winfrey in terms of film projects,” shared Iyanni. With so many social impact and creative projects in the works, her response to the question of what she wants to be when she grows up is not the ordinary response.
“I am already who I want to be and am already doing what I dreamed and desired to be,” said Iyanni. “I would say that it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can be whatever you want to be – I am living proof,” said Iyanni.
As she moves forward in the planning stages of her national anti-bullying movement, her vision is to not only open up a national dialogue on the issue of bullying, but to find innovative solutions that will have a positive impact in reducing the incidence of bullying in schools and communities worldwide.
She expressed appreciation to U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee for embracing her vision and joining forces in her efforts, and is making plans to travel back to Washington in the fall to attend the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 46th Annual Legislative Conference where she hopes to share her vision.
“I want to be the voice for so many people who have lost their lives and I want to show people that the reason that most people bully is that something is going on at home or they were bullied,” Iyanni said. “This will be an exciting time but a time of great importance and much needed work.”
To join forces with the Million Kids March Anti-Bullying Movement, visit www.itsiyannipradia.com or e-mail email@example.com. To make a monetary donation, visit www.gofundme.com/millionkidsmarch.
Iyanni Goes to Washington (images)
Local girl launches Million Kids March against bullying