When Grady Jarrett was coming of age in Conyers, Ga., State House Representative Pam Dickerson began using her influence to curb bullying in Rockdale and Newton counties. Currently serving her third term in office, Dickerson, a longtime friend of Jarrett's mother, has teamed up with the defensive tackle to improve the area he once called home.
Now a professional athlete whom kids can look up to, Jarrett has become a prominent voice at Dickerson's anti-bullying rallies—including one at his old stomping grounds, Rockdale County High.
Taking the advice he received at RCHS, Clemson and the Falcons to heart, Jarrett is motivated to encourage students to be themselves and treat each other with respect. In his mind, this opportunity was meant to be.
"It's been an amazing connection," Jarrett said of his relationship with Dickerson. "I always had interest in doing work in the community, and with her having this platform and knowing me on that level, it was just a great partnership for me to be able to use as a platform to let everybody know what's going on."
Jarrett's endeavor received some well-deserved recognition on Tuesday, when Dickerson invited him to the Georgia State Capitol in downtown Atlanta. There, he spoke to the House of Representatives about his off-field contributions and the importance of fostering a compassionate environment in local schools.
"It was cool to be able to speak to the leaders of the state of Georgia. It was awesome to let them know what I have going on," he said. "I'm extremely thankfully to (Speaker David) Ralston and Ms. Dickerson for giving me the opportunity to speak to the House.
"Hopefully some ears heard today. It's been a blessing."
Dickerson, who recently passed the End to Cyberbullying Act—also known as House Bill 131—has known Jarrett for many years. Like his family, she's taken great joy in watching him become a positive figure in the community.
The two plan on continuing their joint effort in District 113, where they'll keep spreading a simple, yet crucial, piece of wisdom.
"The message, like I told them today, is just to love each other," said Jarrett. "Be that light in a dark place. Have some random acts of kindness. Treat others the way you want to be treated, because at the end of the day, everybody just wants to feel loved."
Photo courtesy of the Georgia State Capitol