Anti-bullying corn maze event educates public, honours deceased teenager
Pam Murchison stands in the RiverBreeze Farm corn maze in Lower Onslow while holding onto a picture of her daughter, Jenna Bowers-Bryanton. Jenna committed suicide in January of 2011 at the age of 15. She was a victim of intense bullying and the corn maze is once again hosting an anti-bullying event in support of a scholarship in Jenna's name. Raissa Tetanish - Truro Daily News
TRURO - Pam Murchison sits on her living room couch with pictures of her daughter staring back at her from multiple directions.
Murchison smiles as she talks about what she misses the most about her daughter.
"Coming into bed with me, thinking I was sleeping but I never was," said Murchison about Jenna Bowers-Bryanton, who committed suicide in January 2011 after relentless bullying.
"What got me every time was the way she laid down - she would stand at the end of the bed and just flop down."
Murchison said she would also tell her daughter to hurry up and get into bed.
"And she would always say, ‘oh Mommy, I love you.'"
Murchison talks about her daughter, and what Jenna went through, as much as she can and she will attend the Sept. 19 anti-bullying event at the RiverBreeze Farm corn maze in Lower Onslow. The event promotes anti-bullying and will also help raise money for the Jenna Bowers-Bryanton Memorial Scholarship.
"I feel it's important for me to be there," Murchison said, noting this is the second year for the event and her second appearance.
When she first talked to Jim Lorraine from RiverBreeze Farm about the event last year, Murchison said she was overwhelmed, but thankful.
"I think he's pretty special. Being affected by Jenna's story, he really wanted to do something," she said.
While the event last year was open to the public, this year's won't be - each school in the province is able to send one class to the event at no cost.
"It's important for the kids to know that they can do something fun while learning about something really serious," said Murchison. "The kids last year had the biggest impact on me. They offered a lot of support. Jenna knew a lot of people, a lot of kids."
Murchison said she will speak at the event if she's asked to and will tell the kids to have a good time, but to also remember that bullying, including cyber bullying, doesn't go away.
"They need to know that they can stand up and make a difference."
Since her daughter's death, Murchison has spoken out at many times and places about bullying, and she always tells youth to give hugs.
"Jenna loved hugs, so I tell kids that if they see someone being bullied and they don't stand up to it, to give the victim a hug after the bully walks away so they know they're not alone. I tell them to try to hug the bully too to see what happens."
When she tells the kids to give hugs, Murchison said many of them come give them to her as well.
"It's almost like I'm getting a hug from Jenna."
If her daughter were able to talk to her, Murchison thinks Jenna would be proud of what she's doing.
"Every time I talk about it or think about giving up, I get goosebumps, so it's like she's telling me I can do this and I can keep going. When I talk about the Kids Help Phone, it's just like she's there with me.
"I think she'd be happy with what I'm doing because she was always standing up for kids and she was a great champion for the underdog."
Through it all, Murchison said she's made some great friends, including Shelley Richardson from the Kids Help Phone, whom Murchison has invited to the event.
She's also hoping Constables Jon Keddy and Todd Taylor, from Truro Police Service, can attend, as well as Wayne McKay from the provincial task force. Makayla Lynn will also be back again this year to perform her song, ‘The Joke's On You.'
With bullying affecting so many young people, Lorraine wanted to continue supporting the scholarship and anti-bullying again this year.
"Far too many young people think they're alone," Lorraine said while his crew worked continuously on the maze to ready it for the event.
"But it shouldn't just fall on the kids. I believe bullying is the responsibility of adults to help stop it as well. As parents, we should be aware of what our children are posting online and what others are saying to them, on places such as Facebook and through text messaging."
Lorraine said being an adult means being a leader and helping prevent bullying.
"We give our children morals and teach them respect. We guide them through life and it's time we step up. It can't just be all about the kids."
This year's anti-bullying event runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the corn maze on Sept. 19.
If students wish to fundraise for the event, all the money will go toward the scholarship. In addition to that, Scotiabank is matching funds raised.