JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Being teased and bullied in school can be a very frightening experience. But the encouraging news is many of us who go through that as a child are able to overcome those hardships.
Former Chicago Bears football player Adrian Peterson struggled with a speech impediment growing up. He's now traveling the country sharing his struggles and encouraging others. Peterson has a book out called "Don't Dis My Abilities." In it he opens up about his life.
Peterson grew up in Alachua, a small town of about 10,000 people right outside of Gainesville. He grabbed a football early on at around 7 years old. He was confident on the field, but inside of the classroom, you would see a different child.
"Growing up it was rough starting out," said Peterson. "Every kid wants to be normal. My mom and dad noticed I had a speech impediment at the age of four. When a lot of the other kids were doing a lot of talking, I shied away from it."
Known as AP, Peterson says he can remember being terrified in class with nowhere to run and having to face his fears head on.
"We had to read aloud in class and I struggled," said Peterson. "The whole day it seemed like none of my words would come out."
He says it was a painful and frustrating time, being teased about his disability.
"You hear in the background the snickering and laughing and giggling," said Peterson. "But from that point I understood 'Adrian you stutter. Lets accept it and move forward.'"
Moving forward is what Peterson is all about. He didn't let those students stop him. Instead, AP says he was determined to continue being himself, on and off the field.
"I didn't change," said Peterson. "I didn't change who I was. I was still active with my sports. And in school if I had to do a presentation it may take me five minutes, 10 minutes or even 30 minutes. But I got up there stood strong and did it."
First Coast parents and children have the chance to attend a fun and free event organized to fight bullying and its negative affects.
The Anti-Bully Boot Camp on Saturday, October 5 begins with a Stop Bullying Now! 1K Walk that is organized by the Mental Health Association (MHA).
Check-in begins at 8:00 a.m. and the walk follows at 8:30 a.m.
Former NBA great Artis Gilmore will be joined by FCN anchors Jeannie Blaylock, Chris Porter, Heather Crawford and Keitha Nelson to kick off a full day of Anti-Bully Boot Camp sessions at MOSH at 9:30 a.m.
Online registration is required in order to check-in, starting at 8:30 a.m.
Know Your Rights
What does bullying look like?
Interactive play for kids
Space is limited for these sessions. Lunch is also provided for those who attend the morning sessions.
Register now for the walk or Anti-Bully Boot Camp. PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU MUST REGISTER FOR EACH EVENT YOU WISH TO ATTEND SEPARATELY.
First Coast News