Alpharetta author hosts anti-bullying discussion

This article was originally published for Appen Media Group.

August 2, 2017

MILTON, Ga. — “The Fat Boy Chronicles” author Mike Buchanan hosted a movie screening and question-and-answer session on bullying July 26 at the Milton Library.

“The Fat Boy Chronicles” tells the story of an overweight high school freshman, Jimmy Winterpock, as he navigates bullies in his new school. While the events in the book are fictional, Buchanan and his co-author, Diane Lang, based it off a real-life high schooler they met several years ago, who told them his story of overcoming bullying by losing weight.

Buchanan and Lang decided to take his story and turn it into a book in 2010, and when it took off, Buchanan adapted it for a screenplay. The movie premiered in 2012.

Since then, Buchanan has traveled to talk about the book and be an anti-bullying advocate at schools across the country.

“I try to do as many things as I can,” Buchanan said. “I visit schools all over the nation talking about this.”

Buchanan, an Alpharetta resident, wanted to host the event before the school year. As a former teacher, he said he knows the value of starting the year off right.

“We’re doing it right now before the school year starts to create a conversation,” Buchanan said.

At the event, Buchanan showed a video of the real person “Fat Boy Chronicles” is based on — Doug Hennig — and explained to the parents and children in attendance that words matter. After showing the short documentary on Hennig, the group watched the movie and discussed the effects of bullying.

Buchanan pointed out that the fictional character never suffered physical harm.

“It was all how they treated him, it was the words they said [and] it was how he was left out of things,” Buchanan said. “He was made fun of so that somebody else could benefit from it, and that’s when it becomes bullying — when your actions are hurting somebody else for your benefit.”

He also advised children not to be afraid of reaching out to adults and talking to them if they see or experience bullying. He said he thinks mentoring programs that bring different kinds of students together, such as athletes mentoring other students, can make a difference in schools.

“As far as I’m concerned, especially with the older kids, the atmosphere of the school is set as much by the students as it is by anybody else,” Buchanan said.

Many of the parents said they appreciated the discussion. One mother, Terri Coons, 47, said she decided to bring her 10-year-old daughter, Veronica, to the event after hearing about it the previous day.

The pair enjoyed the event and are looking forward to seeing more of Buchanan’s work at the library.

“This was great,” Coons said. “We will totally come back when they have the other documentaries.”

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