Tresa Galloway helps students walk in another’s shoes with accessories inscribed with positive messages to combat bullying.
By Kyla Heat
Photography by Andre Smith
Warren Stephen Galloway III didn’t want his mom to intervene, but Tresa Galloway decided she was not going to stand back without taking action.
“When I found out my son was being bullied in middle school, I was trying to figure out how to coach him through the process,” says Galloway, 46, a Grosse Pointe resident who worked in the Grosse Pointe school system for over 22 years. “As an educator myself, I know all the strategies when bullying happens, but it’s a little different when it’s your own child.”
Her strategies and coaching didn’t work, and the bullying continued, but Galloway was determined to come up with a solution.
While in the shower, after prayer and mediation, Galloway came up with Love Laces — light-up shoelaces inscribed with positive messages, like “Become the Light,” to encourage self-love and self-worth.
“When people are sad, they look down. I wanted something at his feet to remind him of all the great things he is,” Galloway says. “The laces represent me tying him up in love as a shield of protection, and the inscription was to build him up: You are strong. You are love. You are a warrior.”
Many students like Warren encounter bullies daily at school and online through social media and group chats, but Galloway hopes to end bullying, one Love Lace at a time. The laces are sold at lovemylaces.com for $12.99 and a portion of proceeds support anti-bullying programs in schools.
About 34 percent of teens experience cyberbullying, according to a 2016 Cyberbullying Research Center study. The numbers for bullying on school grounds double. A study last year by researchers at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire found 73 percent of students ages 12-17 reported being bullied at school at least once, while 44 percent reported being bullied in the last 30 days.
To help with bullying prevention, Parcells Middle School in Grosse Pointe, the same school Warren was bullied at three years ago, ordered Love Laces for the entire student body as a part of their Kindness Challenge. The eight-day event in February focused on activities and lesson plans that promoted inclusion, kindness and respect.
“The goal for the Kindness Challenge was to show the students what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes,” says Dan Hartley, principal of Parcells Middle School. “While the laces lit up the hallways, the true message is that we are different, but at Parcells, we are one.”
Parents Taking Action
Southfield resident Tinisha Tarver, 46, was in tears when her 11-year-old daughter confided in her and said she wanted to end her life.
Tarver’s daughter, Paige Cleague, has dyslexia, and the children teased her at her school, Thompson Middle School in Southfield.
“I felt helpless. The kids were breaking my daughter down,” Tarver says. “I wanted to empower her because words are powerful and they can hurt.”
Besides purchasing Love Laces for Paige, Tarver called her teacher and asked if she could give a presentation about dyslexia. For one hour, Traver spoke to students at Thompson Middle School.
“I wanted the kids to know that dyslexia doesn’t mean that you are dumb — it just means that you learn different from everyone else,” Tarver says. “I want to help change the mindset of a bully.”
While Warren is now a junior in high school and the bullying has ceased, his mother is still speaking out against bullying. This October, Love Laces will host the “Light Up Grosse Pointe” Anti-Bully Awareness Walk.
“If I can impact one child’s life, then I’m happy,” Galloway says. “My goal is to promote positivity. Kindness is the movement.”
What to do if you suspect your child is being bullied or the bully
Contact the school and ask for help. “We can’t help if we don’t know what is going on,” says Dan Hartley, principal of Parcells Middle School. “Some things happen outside of our vision, but if students, teachers and families work together, we can come up with solutions.”
Spend time with your child. As Tinisha Tarver says, “You can never give your kids enough love.” She recommends taking a few hours out of your day to spend time with your child. “Stay involved,” she advises. “Know what they are doing on social media. The internet can be a different world.”
Gain your child’s trust. “Let them know you are in their corner,” says Tresa Galloway, founder of Love Laces. “Give your attention, and ask your children how their day is going. You would be surprised at what they may tell you, if you just ask.” She adds “bullies need love too.” If you suspect your child is bullying others, she suggests asking what is bothering your child. “Find out why they became the bully or who the bully is in their life.”
Seek resources. For more tips and advice, visit stopbullying.gov or stompoutbullying.org. Call the Student Advocacy Center of Michigan at 734-482-0489 or National Suicide Hotline Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.