Speaker, Group Aim to "Break the Grey"!

posted Nov 13, 2015, 8:20 AM by webmaster district   [ updated Nov 13, 2015, 8:27 AM ]

Middle and high school students from DeKalb Central schools gathered Thursday for an assembly put on by Break the Grey in the Dekalb High School gymnasium.

Motivational speaker Bill Ballinger of Franklin spoke to students about the harmful effects of drugs and making positive life choices, while the ensemble of college interns from Break the Grey performed skits on self-harm, bullying, inner beauty and suicide awareness.

The group’s current tour, “Scream If You Want To,” continues to travel to schools across Indiana and Ohio up until the new year.

Break the Grey, based in Fort Wayne, tours elementary, middle and high schools across the United States and Canada. The vision of Break the Grey is to help students realize the untapped potential they have to impact their generation.

“The name Break the Grey is referring to an area of no absolutes and no moral compass. We like to say we’re going after the mediocre, grey area to challenge students to stand up against what’s wrong,” Ballinger said. “These students have the power to stand up and change their school environment to help the young women and men who are self-harming and stop the use of drugs.”

Ballinger started traveling and speaking in churches and prisons in the late ’90s, but the group Break the Grey got its start in 2005.

Ballinger spoke to the students with an emphasis on drugs and self-harm. Speaking of personal experiences from being bullied heavily in school and as a drug dealer who went to jail for several years, Ballinger urged students to live up to their fullest potential.

The program is meant to engage the audience. After asking the crowd of students in they knew of someone who had lost their life under the age of 20 due to drug use, about half the assembly stood, and Ballinger led the students in a moment of silence.

The tone and energy of the group noticeably changed as Ballinger spoke with honesty and conviction. In the end, students lined up to speak to members of the group as well as Ballinger.

After the assembly was over, performers invited students to reach out via social media to provide a safe, open forum to share their experience and thoughts.

“We’ll get flooded on social media after a performance,” said Ballinger. “Every one of the student interns who work for Break the Grey goes through training for mentoring and regulating messages on social media.

“We also have an upper-management department who also monitors the social media platforms to make sure the group is doing a good job responding. In the past, after hearing from students, we’ve been able to help teens who were going to commit suicide, and we’ve also reported cases of abuse.

“The point is to have an impact on students after the assembly,” he said. “At the end of these assemblies, I want a wake-up to happen.”

Ballinger said, “We have a vision for 25 teams nationwide. You hear about tragic stories every day, and it’s rampant in our country. Just yesterday, there was a 17-year-old student who committed suicide at Shenandoah High School.

“We performed at Eastside High School yesterday, and I spoke on bullying and suicide a lot, and I made the statement, ‘Don’t you dare die and check out like that,’ and then after the presentation, sure enough, we got a message from a girl who said she was contemplating suicide,” said Ballinger.

Describing how it makes him feel to be a part of a program helping students, Ballinger said, “It makes me feel really good. I’m loving the opportunity.”

Article and Photo from The Star

Written by Mariah Miller