Lake Forest's Jonah Mowry, who at 14 posted a video on YouTube that went on to be seen by more than 10 million people worldwide and led to his becoming a national spokesman against bullying, is to be honored by OC Human Relations.
Mowry is among the people, groups, agencies, schools or companies the nonprofit organization is scheduled to bestow awards to at its 42nd Annual Awards Gala May 2 at the City National Grove of Anaheim.
His viral video, which was posted in August 2011, featured soft piano music playing as he faced the camera silently and held up cards describing the anguish and turmoil he experienced due to being bullied. Mowry, who figures he's been gay since first grade, made the video at 4 a.m. before returning to Serrano Intermediate School for fall classes.
By December of that same year, the teen was appearing on Good Morning, America and drawing support from Lady Gaga.
In February 2012, he headlined the launch of the Monster March in San Francisco, where he appeared with parents of teens who had committed suicide because of bullying. Mowry and Daniel Mendez, a San Clemente High School student who committed suicide in 2010 because of bullying, were honored at the event.
Mowry's national spokesman role continued into the summer, when he began posting weekly videos called "Jonah Mowry Advice" that tackled such topics as depression and hurting oneself. In October, he participated in the People's March Against Bullying on Laguna Beach's Main Beach. The event was organized by Cool 2 Be Kind, a San Clemente High club started by Mendez's friends.
"Many teens grapple with depression and feel that they are alone. His candor is encouraging many of them to seek the help that they need," Judy Iannaccone, an OC Human Relations board member, says of Mowry in a statement listing the upcoming award recipients. "There is no telling how many countless young lives he has saved with his courageous acts. His courage has made a difference in so many people's lives--young and old alike."
Others OC Human Relations is scheduled to present awards to this year are listed on the next page . . .
- Barbara Jennings of Fullerton "for her tireless advocacy and dedication to rebuilding the lives of the hungry and homeless of Orange County."
- Geraldine "Gerry" Gerken of Newport Beach "for a lifetime of support for women's issues."
- Michael Drake, M.D. of Irvine, the UCI chancellor, "for his commitment to the principle that at University of California, Irvine all perspectives and opinions should be heard in the academic environment."
- WE are Anaheim, SOMOS Anaheim, a community-based group of volunteers that represents residents, who "come from different walks of life, live in different zip codes, speak different languages, and have varying opinions, but come together with the common goal of working for peace and progress in the City of Anaheim."
- Wells Fargo for embracing "the principles of diversity and inclusion in the workplace at all levels of the organization from Chairman, President and CEO John Stumpf whose commitment is evidenced in a recent article published in LatinoMagazine.com to the Wells Fargo (WF) Enterprise Diversity Council that ensures that WF continues to progress in recruiting, placing and developing diverse team members."
- Cypress Police Department "for creating a P.A.C.E. (Positive Actions thru Character Education) program designed to enhance awareness, influence choices, and educate sixth grade students in the areas of Internet safety, social media, peer pressure, bullying, violence and drug abuse."
- Fountain Valley High School "for striving to build a culture on campus that is safe, nurturing, and inclusive of all students. . . . FVHS has one of the longest-running BRIDGES School Programs in the county, demonstrating the school's commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students."
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- Garden Grove High School, where the "OC Human Relations' BRIDGES program has had a unique role on the . . . campus due to the fact that it has been instrumental to the birth of many campus and student initiatives that now continue to operate independently and self-sufficiently."
- Hansen School of Anaheim, where "the families, faculty, and students . . . have employed numerous programs to promote a safe, equitable, and inclusive school environment. Serving a diverse population in the heart of Orange County, Hansen School has overcome the challenges facing our low socio-economic community."
OC Human Relations is partnering with the Disney Resort of Anaheim for the awards program. For more details, visit ochumanrelations.org.