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European Celebrity Performs at Unify Against Bullying Fashion Show

HOLYOKE — More than 650 people gathered at the Log Cabin in Holyoke on May 16 to celebrate diversity through fashion at a fund-raiser for Unify Against Bullying. Students of all shapes, sizes, styles, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and physical ability from 30 different schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut strutted their stuff at the nonprofit’s third annual Fashion Show, presented by Robert Charles Photography of East Longmeadow.

“Through the show, our goal is to help students see that it’s important to celebrate our differences, rather than step back from them. What makes us each unique is ultimately what makes us stronger as a community,” said Edward Zemba, President of Unify Against Bullying. This year’s event raised over $56,000 toward its anti-bullying initiatives.

Greta Salóme, Icelandic performer, joined the students on stage for a moving performance which portrayed an example of dealing with bullying and what it takes to rise above it. During the skit, she performed her song, “Hear Them Calling,” which she sang in the finals of Eurovision in 2016.

“The song is about listening to the positive voices within,” said Salóme, who, having dealt with bullying in her own life, was inspired to join the Unify movement after hearing of the worldwide #UnifySelfieChallenge in 2016. The social-media campaign began with a challenge to gain participation from 50 states and 50 countries within a 50-day time span, which the organization accomplished.

While in the U.S., Salóme plans to visit local schools to speak on behalf of Unify Against Bullying. She hopes to use her experiences to help educate today’s children that our differences are what make people unique. Her message is aligned with the nonprofit’s in that she wants to empower students to make smart choices and embrace diversity.

Also performing at the Fashion Show was local high-school student Kenny Roche, who uses his background in performance to create viral music videos about ending violence, accepting diversity, and bringing an end to bullying. He debuted a new song with a focus on anti-bullying that he created for the show. His original single, “Stop the Violence,” became a viral sensation earlier in 2017 with more than 950,000 views on Facebook. Unify Against Bullying also celebrated its first national partner for this year’s Fashion Show, Paul Mitchell’s new hair-care brand, Neon.

The mission of Unify Against Bullying is to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity. Unify intends to accomplish this goal through providing grants to those who are in the best position to make a difference: children, parents, teachers, and administrators.

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