By Pat McGonigle
Lake St. Louis (KSDK) -- Kayla Stewart makes no apologies for her love of books and her unique fashion sense. Kayla's spirited personality has also helped her deal with some recent health setbacks. The 12-year-old was recently diagnosed with juvenile arthritis and fibromyalgia. It means there are some days when Kayla needs to use a cane.
Sadly, it also made her a target for bullies.
"Some kids called me grandma, jokingly, but it still stung a little bit," Kayla said.
And there was physical abuse, too.
"There was this one kid, he tripped me in the hall and laughed right afterwards."
Eventually, Kayla, her mother and her doctors decided home-schooling would be the best environment for the rest of this school year.
"To watch their world fall apart and, as a parent, you're trying to pick up the pieces and you can't necessarily do it," said Anilise Andersen-Stewart. "You know, life's not a sit-com, we're not done in 30 minutes and sometimes I really wish we were."
Even though she's been bullied, Kayla Stewart is brave. She reached out to NewsChannel 5 and asked to be involved in our campaign, "Bullying: Enough is Enough".
"Even if I get bullied---I'm helping the kids who can't come forward to tell about it," Kayla said.
Kayla also plans to go back to school in the fall and says she refuses to let bullies get her down. Kayla plans to stick with a core group of friends and avoid any potential tormentors.
Experts say that simple strategy, avoidance, is an effective method to prevent bullying.
Kayla hopes she can be a role model for other victims of bullies.
It's easy to believe we can't change the world, but Kayla Stewart is a 12-year-old determined to give it a shot.
"I feel bad for the kids who are scared to come forward because if people don't come forward then we can't fix it."