Picnic is an anti-bullying event to promote acceptance
JANESVILLE—Scott Story was bullied from age 10 to 17.
He feared going to school but also was bullied by his father at home.
Story admits his unathletic build, puffy hair, glasses and braces with full headgear made him a classic target for bullying.
“I spent every moment scared, feeling alone and wondering why and what I did to deserve this,” the 46-year-old Janesville man said.
That's why Story is helping plan and promote The Ruby Project's Out in October Community Picnic and Resource Fair on Sunday, Oct. 20, in Rock County Courthouse Amphitheater, downtown.
“It's an anti-bullying, acceptance of everyone community event no matter your sexual identity,” said Story, event volunteer resource coordinator.
Kelley Blair Ostermann, founder and director of The Ruby Project, said bullying impacts every community. That's what launched the Janesville-based nonprofit organization into hosting the event.
“These are our neighbors and this is our community,” Blair Ostermann said.
The Ruby Project hosts workshops that focus on bullying signs and strategies and provides information to adults working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth. It has become aware of more youth and adults looking for local resources, Blair Ostermann said.
The picnic will serve as a one-stop shop to get information, learn about other people and to show support against bullying, Story said.
“It's to make the community aware of what (local resources) exist,” he said.
The event will feature free goodie bags, live music, a costume contest, a kids' scavenger hunt for candy and an open microphone for people to share their stories. There also will be free food and more than three dozen booths with information on topics from suicide to sexual awareness.
Some raffle proceeds will benefit The Ruby Project so it can continue its work in the community.
Story said the number of businesses supporting the event sends a positive message.
“Janesville is accepting enough of a town to welcome their neighbors to a picnic,” he said.
“Your town is changing and much for the better. So why not be a part of it by coming out and embracing your neighbors?” Story said.
Blair Ostermann agreed: "Out in October is a great opportunity to learn about self-expression and acceptance of everyone in Rock County.''
"The intent is to celebrate who we are.”