ROCKY MOUNT, EDGECOMBE & NASH COUNTIES - A Rocky Mount boy and his twin sister were honored by the Harlem Globetrotters for standing up against bullying.
Ant Atkinson, a native of Wilson, visited Rocky Mount Prep to discuss the "ABC's of Bullying Prevention." The Harlem Globetrotter spoke to 600 students during an assembly Thursday afternoon.
He also honored 8-year-old twins, Ryan and Amber Suffern, with "Junior Phenoms" awards for their courage to stand up against violence.
"Because you guys in our eyes are ‘Junior Phenoms' especially you, [Ryan] for standing up for your little sister and trying to stop the bulling. That means a lot to us," Atkinson said.
The twins garnered national attention when their mother posted a letter Ryan wrote to Santa online. Part of Ryan's letter reads:
"Dear Santa ... I wanted a (remote control) car and helicopter, but I don't want that (anymore). (Kids) at school are still picking on Amber and it's not fair. …"
"The ABC's is what we do to be a good leader and example just like you did," Atkinson said.
ABC stands for action, bravery and compassion. Ryan demonstrated this when he wrote his letter to Santa asking for his twin sister, who suffers from mental difficulties, to stop being bullied.
Amber told NewsChannel 12 what it feels like to be bullied.
"I feel sad and mad. But I don't believe them. They just are probably upset about something," Amber said.
Atkinson told the students he was a victim of bullying growing up. He discussed how it made him feel and how he handled it.
Ryan said he learned to "always tell a teacher when someone is being bullied."
The twins' mom, Karen Suffern, said she is grateful.
"My daughter has been helped and if I can help just one other child by sharing their story it will be worth it," she said.
"From the Harlem Globetrotters and our organization we want to tell you in our eyes you guys are ‘Junior Phenoms' and don't let nothing stop you all right," Atkinson said.
Ryan and Amber also received autographed basketballs from the team and will get the chance to see them in action in Raleigh in March.
The Globetrotters designed the "ABC" program in coordination with the national campaign to stop violence. Stars of the team will bring the program to more than 300 schools during the 2013-14 school year.