Wintersville teen linked to anti-bullying campaign

Carly Jo Laughery, a senior at Indian Creek High School, began an anti-bullying campaign at Hills Elementary as a youth but now is seeing a similar plan on a greater scale. A California company has acquired the trademark name of her program and will launch the website this month, which will sell merchandise such as T-shirts and wristbands bearing the campaign logo. ICHS students with the bracelets include, from left, Hanna Williams, Laughery, Ian Belt, Alyssa Campbell, Emma Minto and Miranda Corrigan. (Submitted photo)

WINTERSVILLE — An anti-bullying campaign kicking off in February has some local ties with involvement from a Wintersville teen.

Carly Jo Laughery, a senior at Indian Creek High School and the daughter of Don and Robin Laughery, has ties to the, a website launching early next month by a company based in Beverly Hills, Calif. Laughery came up with a similar idea called “I Love Love, I Hate Hate-Kids Against Bullying” when she was a 9-year-old pupil at Hills Elementary School in Mingo Junction, and now the West Coast company has hopes to use the concept on a larger scale.

“I started it in the fourth grade as a way to bring awareness to the school,” Laughery said. “I saw on the news how kids were being bullied and we tried to prevent it from starting at our school. (My campaign) was a way to make kids feel more welcome. We wore shirts on certain days and the TV news did an interview.”

Her campaign continued through seventh grade and even gained some national notice when her mother gave a T-shirt to Hoda Kotb of NBC’s “Today” show. Kotb included it in her top favorite things of the month, and Laughery said people from various states and schools were asking for the apparel. More recently, she was contacted by Ken Feuerman, who founded the website with partner John Trasacco and was producing a variety of fashion apparel and related goods featuring the name with a unique smile-frown logo. Her family granted his request to trademark the name while she will receive credit for the concept. The company also sent wristbands bearing the logo, and they were handed out at the high school and at Hills.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Laughery said. “My parents are pretty excited and we were really shocked when we found out someone from California wanted to do something with it. (Feuerman) wanted pictures of my fourth-grade classmates in T-shirts and wearing the bracelets so they can be on the website. I am excited to see where it goes.”

Feuerman was impressed with the teen’s achievement and hopes to reach a wider audience through the website.

“Our aim is to be commercially successful while at the same time encouraging people to post ideas and interact on the website to help make the world a better place,” Feuerman said. “We will also donate a portion of our profits to worthy causes and to help others launch their own campaigns like Carly did a few years ago.”

Feuerman explained he and Trasacco had developed the idea independently, but upon doing further research they learned about Laughery initiating her successful anti-bullying campaign several years earlier. They were encouraged by her success and say they admire her efforts.

“We hope that by wearing our apparel, people will be spreading positive messages and also visit the site to see what other people are trying to do to make things better and perhaps join in with them. Again, it is our intention to donate a portion of our profits to worthy causes and to help people launch their own campaigns,” he said.

Feuerman, a television producer from Brooklyn, N.Y., has contributed to many events from 5K runs to AIDS and cancer walks that have been sponsored by shows and networks he’s worked for, while Trasacco has been involved with causes in his community, some in conjunction with Yale University in his native New Haven, Conn.

Feuerman noted Laughery had achieved a lot at her young age.

“We believe that what Carly accomplished with her anti-bullying campaign was amazing and shows how much an individual motivated by a goal can accomplish. Carly is kind of a pioneer in highlighting the anti-bullying issue, which has become an even greater problem, but now has a higher profile, thanks in part to her contribution. We want to help continue Carly’s campaign using the resources of our business and website in conjunction with her. We are excited that the students at the local schools liked our new bracelet design and we hope it will encourage them and others to make this a better world. This is the goal of our company and, with the support of people like Carly and those students, I believe we can make a difference.”

Meanwhile, Laughery plans to continue inspiring others once she graduates this spring from ICHS. The teen hopes to study early childhood education at Franciscan University of Steubenville and eventually teach younger generations of children.