Jaylen Arnold isn't your average kid. When he's not hanging with friends and going to the movies, he's speaking out against bullying.
Jaylen knows firsthand what it's like to be bullied. He has Tourette syndrome, which causes both vocal and motor twitches and ticks. He also suffers from Asperger's syndrome and severe obsessive compulsive disorder.
These differences made him a target to bullies.
"I got bullied in my class verbally," young Jaylen said. "They'd mock me; they'd copy me and call me names. There were so many I don't even remember, and since I was the only one with Tourette syndrome, I thought I was all alone."
Now, he's making sure no kid suffers in silence.
"You always have to speak up and be loud, because you have to be heard. You can't suffer in silence," he said.
Five years ago, at just 8 years old, Jaylen decided he wasn't going to do something about it.
That's when he started "Jaylen's Challenge," a non-profit foundation focused on promoting awareness and preventing bullying. He knew he had to stand up for himself and for everyone else that was getting bullied.
"I know kids that are committing suicide because one bully did that, and I think that it's wrong for one person's words, or two people, to make you want to end your life. I think there is nothing more precious," he said.
Today, Jaylen embraces his life and differences.
"It's a gift! Honestly, I thought it was a curse, or God was mad at me, or I was born to be weird. But Tourette's has brought me to where I am today, and I couldn't be more thankful, and it has impacted me in a great way," he said.
He said he wouldn't have it any other way. Jaylen is about to go nationwide with his message. And he says that's just the beginning of his vision to banish bullying.
"My plans are really big. I plan to stop bullying anywhere and everywhere I can all over the world -- to make sure no kid has to go through a suffering stage in their life," he said.
Find out more about Jaylen's Challenge: http://www.jaylenschallenge.org/
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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