Public Service Announcement: Meet Farley Project Volunteer Layla Kayleigh
Name: Layla Kayleigh Covino
Day Job: TV host turned music manager for the boy band To Be One
Organization of choice: The Farley Project, a non-profit organization that brings bullying-survivors into middle schools to make an impact on the culture of bullying and create a forum where students can discuss their experiences it.
I volunteer every other week.
I was inspired to volunteer by Elissa Kravetz, the founder of The Farley Project. Farley Middle School was where she experienced severe bullying, so she started a program to empower young people and spread kindness.
I volunteer because I feel very connected to anything involving youth. I left home when I was 15, and I was completely on my own. Statistically, I should have ended up on drugs or pregnant. I met people along the way who helped me and kept me from going down a crazy path. So I really connect with young people now. The Farley Project is not just about anti-bullying, it’s about kindness. We say to these kids: you matter; you have a place in the world
When I volunteer, I share my story so the kids feel like they can relate to me. We make them look at themselves in the mirror and move toward loving each other. And we also have them write down their dreams. What they write down doesn’t go anywhere, it’s just an outlet.
To volunteer, I give up only a couple of hours every couple of weeks. I’m a mom, I’m a wife, and now I’m a music manager, and sometimes you get caught up in your own life. But if I can go in and tell kids to be kind and tell them, “You have a place in the world,” that time doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all.
In return, I get to see myself in these kids. When I was growing up I was bullied. I felt like I was worthless, like people like me grew up to be nothing. It’s an honor to have these kids listening to us. And it is an honor that someone is letting me volunteer, letting me shape these children.
From one volunteer to another, be yourself and be prepared to be vulnerable. I cried the first time I went in and talked to the kids. It was so embarrassing, but it turns out that it was the best thing I could do. Those kids are being vulnerable with you. They want to know you’re human.