Imagine being in fifth grade and enduring a life altering injury as the result of bullying. Nineteen-year-old author Isabella Sementilli doesn’t have to imagine — every day she lives with the after effects caused by a bullying incident. Isabella recently visited Watervliet Elementary School to read her book, “The Short Story of One Tough Cookie,” and share her personal journey and positive message with students. She calls her message Izzy’s Cure: Be nice. Be kind Share a smile.
Short Story, Powerful Message
In fifth grade Isabella experienced a concussion, a fractured tailbone, and head and neck injuries when a bully pulled a chair from beneath Isabella as she was about to sit at her desk. As a result of her injuries, Isabella experienced constant headaches, and a sensitivity to light and sound that make it impossible for her to engage in activities she once loved. Rather than clickety-clacking her tap shoes across the dance floor or volleying a tennis ball cross court, Isabella spent her time visiting more than 30 doctors and specialists in pursuit of a diagnosis for her agonizing pain. An Albany Medical Center physician ultimately diagnosed Isabella with a rare debilitating headache disorder (NDPH).
Instead of crumbling, however, Isabella demonstrated that she is “one tough cookie.” She focused her energy on other hobbies, like learning to knit. With encouragement from her grandfather, she began to bake cookies based on a traditional family recipe that she has since made her own. She calls her cookies “Iznettes,” and donates proceeds from the sale of her cookies to traumatic brain injury and anti-bullying charities. Isabella also found her passion writing and drawing, which resulted in her penning and illustrating her book, “The Short Story of One Tough Cookie,” which is sold on Amazon and in local bookstores.
After introducing herself and reading her book, Isabella answered students’ questions about her experience with bullying.
When a student asked if Isabella is still mad at the bully, she replied: “I take a different path. It made me realize my strength and pushed me to share my message as an author. Every day, I make sure to spread the word about kindness.”
Another student asked what advice she would give to someone being bullied? “Tell someone you trust. Find help. Don’t keep it to yourself.”
No Place for Hate
Elementary students and staff engage in activities throughout the year in support of the school’s No Place for Hate anti-bullying initiative. This author visit with Isabella Sementilli was the final No Place for Hate activity for this school year.