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Matt Cavedon Says Enough Is Enough!
By Genet Berhane

Matt Cavedon
Matt Cavedon is making a difference in his community.
(Photo: AP Photo)
Matt Cavedon has been busy with a big job over the last few years—making the world a better place. Most recently, that has meant doing his part to stop bullying. Several years ago, that meant designing playgrounds more accessible to handicapped kids. Did we mention that he's just 14 years old and confined to a wheelchair?

Stopping the Bullies

When national plans for an anti-bullying campaign recently began to take shape, Matt saw a cause that he could contribute to. While some schools have excellent prevention plans in place, they are often not enough. Even peer mediation systems, where kids meet to work through their problems with other students, do not completely stop the bullying.

One of the biggest problems is that a lot of bullying goes unreported. It's not just about the bullies and the victims, says Matt. Bystanders, the people who see bullying happen, have an important role to play in the situation.

"Anyone who sees something should do something," he says. "Don't just be bystanders; get involved."

Matt's contribution to the anti-bullying campaign is something he wanted to do simply because he understands how wrong bullying is. He understands that a problem, any problem, deserves attention.

"He wants to be involved," says his mom, Susan Cavedon. "He wants to help the next person."

It's important to remember that you have the power to make a difference, Matt says. Bystanders can get involved by speaking up for victims. He also has some advice for the kids who have to put up with bullying.

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent," he says to the victims of bullying. "Keep your self-esteem high."

What does he have to say to the bullies?

"Why?" he says. "Why do you do it? Look at others who overcame their problems instead of taking them out on other people. Have the honor and respect not to take it out on others. You'll be stronger by not bullying."

Get Active

This isn't the first time Matt has done something to make life better for other kids. Even when he was younger, Matt was doing his part to make his community in West Hartford, Connecticut, a better place.

"Anyone can make a difference," he says. "Age doesn't matter."

Age certainly never stopped Matt. While in elementary school, he worked with Boundless Playgrounds, an organization that creates play areas accessible to kids of all abilities. Matt uses a wheelchair because of a condition that keeps him from extending his limbs. He understands the importance of providing play spaces designed to fit everyone.

Matt developed equipment for Boundless Playgrounds, and is currently a co-chairman of the Jr. Advisory Board for the company. He is proud of the positive responses his playgrounds have received.

"Everyone seems to love it," he says.

Matt is not the only one in his family taking a stand against bullying. Find out what his father, Officer Dave Cavedon, is doing to educate communities about a new trend in bullying—cyberbullying.