My name is Junior Frood and I am a 14 year old Street Dancer from Leeds. With this week being National Anti-Bullying Week I want to highlight the issues surrounding bullying and want your help to put a stop to it!
All through my primary school years I was bullied for my love of dancing. It was thought by children and adults mainly males that it wasn’t right for me to dance. They said that because I danced I must be gay – they would shout verbal abuse at me and even resort to physical punching and kicking. I was beaten up many times by people much older and bigger than me all because they didn’t like the fact that I was a boy and danced.
No matter what I was put through I got back up again and never let the bullies win. I wanted to be a dancer so badly and I wasn’t going to let anyone stand in my way. Me and my family ended up moving house and schools and life finally got better but I wanted to do something about what I had been through and didn’t want anybody else to suffer like I had.
I began to use my love of dancing to do good for others and started performing for charity events, busking and raising money for both national and local charities and up to date have helped to raise over £300,000.
But my main aim was to highlight the fact that Boys Can Dance and that they should be able to without the fear of harassment and bullying. I became a National Anti-Bullying Ambassador on the Youth Board for England following training from the Diana Award and set up a social media campaign on twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtags #BoysCanDance #BoysDanceToo and #BoysLoveToDance
I choreographed an anti-bullying dance and performed this at schools, events and concerts to highlight my story of what I had been through. I have also appeared on national TV, radio and in magazines to spread awareness for bullying. Some of my biggest highlights have been featuring on ITV This Morning, BBC Breakfast, CBBC Newsround and Hello Magazine as well as at Downing Street and Houses of Parliament.
Through my campaign I have received many messages of support from children and their parents who have been bullied before saying that I have helped them continue dancing or how they have started to dance after hearing my campaign. I have also caught the eye of many celebrities who are proud of my campaigning including Ashley Banjo from Diversity who presented me with an award and none other than HRH Prince William and Kate who invited me to Kensington Palace in recognition of my work. Not to mention Royal approval from none other than HRH Prince William who told me to keep up the dancing, live my dreams and he even shared with me stories of Princess Diana’s love of dancing and that young Prince George has started Ballet lessons and was loving it. If a future King of England can dance then why not any other male dancer out there.
In addition to this I have also received many awards in recognition of my charity fundraising and anti-bullying campaign which include a Courageous Citizen Diana Award, Points of Light Award from the Prime Minister, British Citizen Youth Award from the House of Lords and most recently I won BBC Radio 1 Teen Hero Award which was presented to me live on stage at Wembley Arena.
Through my dance career I have had some amazing opportunities that I am so thankful for, some of which include being a backing dancer for Justin Bieber on his World Purpose Tour, backing dancer for Union J, support act for Sam Bailey from the X Factor on her last 2 UK Tours, dancer in West End Musical ‘Stepping Out’ with Amanda Holden, countless festivals for CBBC and most recently I have danced with Rak-Su from X Factor and performed live at Wembley Arena with the biggest girl band on the planet Little Mix. I am also lucky enough to train at the world renowned Jelli Studios in Liverpool under the guidance of the amazingly talented Jennifer Ellison and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
I hope through my anti-bullying campaign I can reach out to other male dancers and individuals that have been bullied for other reasons and show them that help is out there. It means so much to me to ensure that no other individual suffers the pain I have.
If you are being bullied I would advise you to seek help, you are not alone. Reach out and speak to a grown up, relative, teacher, friend or anybody you trust. With the help of others you can do something about what you are going through, bullying is a criminal offence and should not be tolerated. Stand up and together we can put a stop to bullying.
Bullies are individuals, cowards and are jealous of what you are achieving. Just because they don’t like what you are doing or don’t agree with you doesn’t give them a right to bully you for it. Never be ashamed of who you are or what you want to be. We are all different and deserve to live our lives how we want. Be proud of yourself and never give up on your dreams!