Anti-bullying video will feature cast of local musicians

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 October 2014 at 12:00 am

Rodemeyer family records segment for video

Photos by Tom Rivers – John Wragg (left), owner of Torquil Studios, is pictured with the Rodemeyer family: Tracy, Tim and Alyssa. They recorded a segment about anti-bullying today in Wragg’s studio in Middleport.

MIDDLEPORT – John Wragg pulls backs the shirt sleeve on his right arm. A scar runs from his palm and past his wrist.

For Wragg, bullying is personal. When he was 14 he slashed himself because of the jeering he faced at school.

Wragg, now 60, wants to send a powerful message to the community and beyond about bullying. For the past seven months he has worked with musicians in Orleans County and the sixth grade chorus at Medina to produce “We Are The World.” The lyrics will be the same as when leading musicians recorded the song in 1985 to fight hunger in Africa. Click here to see that video.

This time Wragg wants the song to send an anti-bullying message. Many local musicians recorded parts for the song. Wragg felt it was missing something. He reached out to the Rodemeyer family. Tracy and Tim Rodemeyer’s son Jamey committed suicide when he was 14, after facing harassment from his classmates at Williamsville North. Jamey was gay.

His parents and Jamey’s 19-year-old sister, Alyssa, were at Wragg’s studio today.

“Whether it’s two people or 10,000 people, we want to get the message out to prevent suicide and make schools a safe place,” Mrs. Rodemeyer said. “Our view is one kid at a time, one school at a time.”

John Wragg shows the Rodemeyers and Bobby Wise (back right) the nearly complete “We Are The World” video Wragg has produced about bullying. Wise is founder of Project Unity, an anti-bullying program.

The Rodemeyers were joined by Bobby Wise, founder of Project Unity, a bullying prevention program. Wise grew up in Fredonia and left that school in ninth grade due to bullying. He graduated from a performing arts high school in Utah.

He watched Wragg’s video and was impressed. He hopes it goes viral on the Internet.

“It features real people from our area,” Wise said after seeing the video. “They understand the problem that is going on.”

Wragg plans to include the Rodemeyers in the final edit. He wants to have the video go live in time for Oct. 6, which is “World Anti-Bullying Day.” He wants to challenge people who see the video to take a stand against bullying, whether at school, the workplace, in their homes or elsewhere in the community.

“This is just to raise awareness and to send a message,” Wragg said. “It’s we the people against you bullies.”

Orleans Hub will post the finished video when it’s ready in a few days.