Maya Claridge isn't your average fifteen year old teenager. Sure, she hangs out with friends, goes to school and has to clean up her room, but what she does outside of that is what sets her apart. Having been bullied throughout middle school, Claridge says her life could have gone in a different direction. "I could have given up and let the bullies win," she admits. Not only did she not give up, she decided to give back.
In 2016 Maya began touring on an anti-bullying, anti-hate platform she designed, called Bullied to Bold. She visits middle schools throughout the state and nationwide and talks with students about the effects of bullying and how to overcome. "Maya's message is powerful not because the bullying she experienced is worse than what other kids go through, but because it's exactly what kids are going through every day," said Beverly Brenner, booking agent for the tour. "She reaches these kids where they're at because she's been there and walked in their shoes," Brenner said.
"The kids flock to her," said a local middle school teacher. "They swarm around her getting autographs and taking selfies." Claridge said that the kids come up to her afterwards, sometimes in tears, and share their stories. She takes pictures with them, signs their arms, "Put it Down," from the music video where the words are written across her arm and even connects with them on social media. "I don't just lift them up, they lift me up too," Claridge said.
In conjunction with the tour, Claridge, who is an actress and a singer, released a single she wrote, entitled, Put It Down, to accompany the tour. "It's a song of empowerment and courage," Claridge explained. "It tells people that they have the strength to put down their fear and walk away from it." And that's exactly what Claridge does in the intensely emotional music video for Put It Down, which has over 100K views on YouTube.
On top of a tour, a song and a video, Claridge wrote a book, PUT IT DOWN: Going From Bullied to Bold, sharing her story and some insights into bullying that parents need to know. "Bullying destroys a person from the inside out and unfortunately people can't see the damage until it's too late," Claridge writes.
Now, being awarded the Heart of Broomfield Youth Award, Claridge says she feels honored and grateful for the opportunity she's been given to be able to help other kids and plans to keep using her talents to promote a positive message. She's also been selected to attend the TISCH 2017 School of the Arts Summer Program at NYU, where she says she is excited to train with professionals in the industry. You may have seen Claridge most recently in the role of Mrs. Lovett in Legacy High School's musical, Sweeney Todd. (For more stage and film credits see IMDb - Maya Claridge.)
The book is available on Amazon. The song is available on iTunes. You can find more information about Maya Claridge, her book, her song, her tour on www.BulliedToBold.com or www.MayaClaridge.com To book Claridge into your school or youth organization, visit the Bullied to Bold website for booking instructions.