Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Ben Cohen, MBE, Founder and Chairman, Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation.
As a professional athlete and rugby World Cup champion, I thought I knew what my future would hold. My Uncle George had also been on a World Cup team, winning the football (soccer) honor for England in 1966. Sports would continue to define me, as it always had. So I thought.
Then, in early 2011, just after being honored as Player of the Year, I hung up my boots and retired for a cause, founding the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation. A lot of people around me thought I had lost my mind. Why this cause? Why now?
What those people didn’t know was the deep pain that had been in my own family, right alongside the joy of being one of the best athletes in the world. My father, Peter, had been beaten to death when he decided to stand up for an employee under attack. It tore our lives apart, and I knew that the pain we had gone through was similar to that of many other families.
Thanks to the amazing power of social media and my growing number of friends on Facebook, I was hearing from people all over the world. Their stories of bullying, the impact it had on their lives and self-esteem, moved me deeply. I could not reverse what violence had done to my family, but maybe I could stand up for other families before it was too late.
In launching the foundation, which operates in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom, we decided the most powerful thing possible would be to create strong partnerships. Partnerships to fund those who are making a real impact to address bullying. Partnerships with consumer brands in order to support that funding. Partnerships with technology and content leaders to share trustworthy information. We knew we had to reach a huge number of people if we were to make a massive change.
We launched strong; the support from people around the world was amazing. The ability to make grants very quickly made our work real and rewarding. But the power of our partnership with Microsoft really transformed what would be possible.
Our friends and followers need valuable, actionable information to confront the serious issue of online bullying. Only Microsoft could provide the careful guidance and deep content we needed in this area. And when it came to launching StandUp Magazine, we knew that our focus on good sportsmanship and fair play for all had to extend into the online gaming environment if we were to be relevant. Microsoft again chose to stand up with us, and help our readers learn how to help protect kids online. On Nov. 14, National StandUp Day, we launch this important inaugural issue of the magazine with help from Microsoft.
We know with certainty that bullying is a mainstream issue. It crosses age groups, genders and identities of all kind. Addressing anything this complex requires an incredible focus, deep commitment and tireless work. The support of Microsoft makes that possible. We can deliver the serious and trustworthy resources required by those who turn to us because of the power of partnership we have found with Microsoft. Stand with us on Nov. 14 against bullying.