Bozeman Foundation brings anti-bullying message to Castaic Middle School

Bradley Bozeman speaks to teens about maintaining a positive attitude in the face of challenges and obstacles in way of goals and dreams inside the gym at Castaic Middle School, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

Students at Castaic Middle School took a break from their usual school schedules to sit in on an assembly held by pro-athletes and founders of the Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation Wednesday.

Brad Bozeman, a Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman, and his wife, Nikki, a former basketball player for the University of Alabama, stopped by Castaic Middle School during a cross-country tour to promote anti-bullying, something both have endured while in middle and high school.

“We were both bullied for our size, and there was one girl who was getting heavily picked on and (Brad) was asked to send her a video, but he said, ‘Why not just come speak to her?’” said Nikki. “Then we were asked to talk to the whole school and kids started coming up and talking to us about suicide. That’s when we knew we were meant to do this.”

Nikki Bozeman, athlete and anti-bulling advocate, speaks to teens about experiences as a youth being larger than her peers and overcoming bullying and teasing, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

Brad and Nikki are traveling across 20 states to speak with 18,000 students about their stories about being bullied and how important it is to find a passion. Castaic Middle School was the ninth stop of the tour, and the only stop in Southern California.

During the assembly, Brad and Nikki took turns talking about their sports careers and how being bullied throughout middle and high school drove them to find a passion to act as an “outlet.”

“The definition of an outlet is, if I were to wake you up at 3 a.m. and you couldn’t go back to sleep, what would be one thing you are so excited to do?” said Nikki. “I encourage everyone who couldn’t come up with anything to take some time to think about what you would wake up at 3 a.m. to do.”

Along with finding a passion, finding “advocates” was another subject Nikki emphasized. She and Brad mentioned people who they were able to turn to for advice and had supported their passion for sports. She said there’s always people who can be advocates, including teachers and administrators at the school.

Teenage students from Castaic Middle School prepare to listen to Bradley Bozeman, motivational speaker and pro NFL player, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal

After talking about their passion for sports and encouraging the students to find their own, Nikki asked everyone not associated with the school to exit the gym where the assembly was held so students could have a “safe space” to ask questions regarding bullying or other mental health issues.

Nikki and Brad also gave the students who attended the assembly a Bradley Bozeman NFL trading card. The card had direct contact information for Brad and Nikki so students could reach out if needed.

“You see yourself in some of these kids,” said Brad. “We can’t control a lot of things that happen in life, but what you can control is your passion, determination and attitude and I hope the kids we talk to see that.”

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