Zombies Walk Among Us

November 13, 2019

Krystian Leonard, 20, was born in New Mexico and raised in West Virginia where she currently attends West Virginia University Reed College of Media. She is the president of the nonprofit Shining S.C.A.R.S., which she founded four years ago, and is the author of the award winning children’s book, Shining Scars. A speaker at TEDx and Contagious Optimism Live, Krystian takes her anti-bullying and self acceptance message to area schools and teen conferences. She is interested in working in the television industry. Krystian enjoys spending time with her Chihuahua, traveling with family, and finding adventure.

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In the mountains of West Virginia, there is a growing number of Zombies. You heard right, zombies are infiltrating schools and starting clubs all in the name of kindness. And it all started with an idea and movie by JC Films, written by Jason Campbell and Dorian Cleavenger, and directed by Aeyron Moore, titled, The Zombie Club.

This summer I had the extraordinary opportunity to meet Jason Campbell with actor Dean Cain in Bridgeport, WV. I was all in, after learning and understanding the concept and mission of this unique movie – to create zombie clubs across the country designed to end bullying. Speaking out against bullying is something I have been doing on a personal level through my nonprofit Shining S.C.A.R.S. for about 7 years. And witnessing this incredible movie coming together with actors Dean Cain, Michael Sigler, and Timothy Goodwin, was inspiring. The cast members have been promoting and taking a stand against bullying in schools here in West Virginia, and the feedback is phenomenal.

Each visit includes a free screening of the film and can be accompanied by a professional mental health and teen counselor. The actors cast in this movie each have a personal story about bullying and were asked to share their experience during the casting process. Those who were chosen and appear in the film truly embody the mission to empower others. 

I was happy to be cast as a snarky cheer coach, Ms. Walker – who doesn’t hide her emotions with her facial expressions. And more importantly, I was cast as a community leader and even traveled to Magnet Traditional School in Phoenix, Arizona, to share some kind and encouraging words, with a free screening of the film. One of the producers, Stephanie Bradley, met me in Arizona and is continuing to set up school visits near her. In addition to the electrifying cast members, the film features a power girl funk band from West Virginia, called ‘The Change.’ The band has a strong message to connect people around the world with a message of hope and unity. Check them out at @RiseoftheChange!  As quickly as a zombie’s bite can change your life, the message behind this film is spreading across the country! 

Our Zombie teens truly care about the message behind this film and are taking the time to make sure the message is turned into positive actions, in their communities encouraging students to start their own Zombie Clubs. We need kindness now more than ever. It’s up to each of us to step up and be accountable for our part in ending this bullying epidemic. I am sure it wouldn’t take you long to remember a moment or experience when bullying impacted your life. We all experience it at some point, and it isn’t just children. It continues into teen years, and sadly even adulthood. 

If you visit The Zombie Club on Facebook, they share some staggering data:

  • About 1 in 5 students admitted they are responsible for bullying their peers. 
  • 77% of all students are bullied verbally. 
  • Every 7 minutes a child is bullied, and 7 % of children attempt suicide, resulting in 4,400 deaths per year. 

The final message that each member of the Zombie Club crew wants to share include three key points:

  1. Bullying is a national epidemic, and it’s important to report it.
  2. It’s extremely important that schools provide a safe environment to report bullying and that our schools act to shut down bullying when it occurs. Help students learn how to defuse a bullying situation and seek the help they need.
  3. Each student can and should “Be the Change.”

We are all aware of how bullying can change someone’s life; it can cause a lot of pain and sadness. But with the help and guidance of this film and its core message, we can change so many lives for the better and help students across the country to healthily surpass their bullies. Encouraging others to accept themselves and those around them is something I will always be proud of advocating for, and I cannot think of a better film to share with my loved ones or those I have yet to meet. I’m immensely grateful to be involved with this film and all of those who have worked very hard to be the change in the lives of those we love.  

For more information about The Zombie Club, to schedule a free movie screen, or start your own Zombie Club, visit https://www.zombieteen.com/

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