#ICANHELP is proud to announce our newest board member Brandon Farbstein, a global empowerment speaker, author, and Gen-Z activist. Brandon is a powerful advocate for people with disabilities and anyone else who experiences discrimination. He brings awareness and support to critical issues like cyberbullying and mental health, and is a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion of underrepresented and historically excluded people.
Brandon’s journey began in high school, where he experienced severe cyberbullying because he has metatropic dysplasia, a rare form of dwarfism. He faced death threats weekly and received no help from the school administration or the local authorities.
“There were also Instagram accounts made to harass and degrade me. They called me horrible names and used antisemitic language and discussing things that no human should say to another,” Brandon said.
Brandon realized he couldn’t be the only one experiencing bullying and noticing that there was no support system in place to address the harm it caused.
“And so, alongside my parents, we decided to share my story in front of Virginia state lawmakers, and I got the opportunity to testify in favor of two new laws,” Brandon shared.
One law aids in bullying prevention and support, and the second requires a class in every K-12 public school to educate students about emotional intelligence, personal boundaries, and empathy. Both laws were passed in 2017.
In addition to his political activism, Brandon found his unique voice through speaking engagements like his first TedX talk at age 15. In his talk, Brandon not only shares his story of resilience but discusses social media’s potential for both doing good and causing harm. Like any tool, its impact is determined by how people use it; sharing stories to teach people the power of empathy is one of the best ways to build community and combat abuse, bullying, and negativity.
Brandon has reached over one million people through private speaking engagements, motivational assemblies, and global conferences. Brandon encourages young people to connect, be an example, and share their stories. He has learned that when we see others of a similar background, age, or identity achieving their goals and speaking up, it empowers us to do the same.
“Through that experience, I recognized that we all could make change through simply sharing our story and using our voice.” Brandon continues, “I was a 17-year-old teenager who didn’t have an Instagram following. I didn’t have titles or even accomplishments. I just had my truth.”
Today, Brandon is devoted to tackling challenges related to mental health and cyberbullying with federal lawmakers. He uses his platform to draw attention to these issues to create systemic, institutional change.
“I’m trying the best that I can to be visible. Representation truly matters. Being Gen-Z and being part of the LGBTQ community, and being disabled, I recognize that many people feel invisible and don’t have a place. It’s up to us to create that sense of belonging and inclusion.”
While on a mission to share his story and amplify the call for empathy, understanding, and kindness, Brandon takes his own messages to heart. He seeks out others’ stories and experiences with challenging issues like racism, misogyny, and homophobia to continue learning, growing, and finding his place in the larger fight for equality worldwide. Brandon has found that it is a necessity to teach and develop empathy in our everyday lives. Being more compassionate, connected, and honest will help resolve the issues of cyberbullying and bullying.
“Being able to experience the lived truth of others is what I am really grateful for and what I appreciate so much.”
As a member of the #ICANHELP community, Brandon is dedicated to teaching students how to use social media and other digital technologies to amplify their voices and create positive change. #ICANHELP’s mission is to give students the education and resources they need to promote online positivity, safety, innovation, and health. With Brandon’s experience with student outreach and empowerment, #ICANHELP will grow faster than ever.
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