John Vincent, renowned resident anthem singer for the Chicago Cubs, visited Marlowe Middle School to share a message of kindness and acceptance with students during three assemblies January 25. The visit was part of his ongoing anti-bullying campaign in Chicago-area schools, which he discussed on WGN earlier this year.
Vincent shared with students his own experiences being severely bullied as a child and suffering with obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety.
“We’re all the same,” Vincent said. “We’re all afraid of something. We’re all insecure. We all have worth.”
He called on students, both victims of bullying and perpetrators of bullying, to open up about their experiences. Several students shared their experiences with bullying and mental health issues, both during the assembly and personally with Vincent and school staff members afterward.
“Be kind or be nothing,” Vincent told students, challenging them to be leaders to stop bullying within their own school. “You guys deserve to be happy. You guys deserve to be loved. You deserve kindness. But that starts with you. Put that kindness out into the world.”
Vincent opened up about his experiences with mental health issues, which he says he “wears on his sleeve” and discusses openly. He continues to struggle, but finds that sharing his experiences in schools is a form of therapy for him. He encouraged students to reach out to school staff members including counselors and social workers for help if they are experiencing challenges.
He said he also finds inspiration from celebrities who have publicly shared their own experiences with mental health issues, including Lady Gaga. Vincent’s national profile received a huge boost when Lady Gaga tweeted that she had “goosebumps” from his rendition of the national anthem during the Cubs’ World Series run in 2016. Vincent received a World Series ring from the Cubs, which several students got a chance to sport for photos.
Vincent said he feels very blessed to achieved such successes as an adult after the challenges he faced as a child. That journey is what has inspired his appearances as schools, which he does for free.
If you or someone you know is being bullied, you are encouraged to report it to a staff member or via any of the following methods through which reports can be made anonymously:
- Online Bullying Report Form
- Send a text to SAFE Text: (866) 435-7684
- Call the Anonymous Tipline: 847-659-INFO (4636)
Students experiencing mental health challenges also are encouraged to reach out to their counselor, social worker, or any staff member, or to reach out via the McHelp app.