During a trip to Egypt in 2007, Marty L. Ward lay in a marble sarcophagus, meditating and imagining herself in a white flowing gown with a thousand children at her feet.
The image perplexed Ward, a former teacher and social worker, because she did not work with children at the time.
Four years later in 2011, Ward read a story that rattled her bones. A 10-year-old girl named Ashlyn Conner committed suicide one morning rather than face another day of being tormented by bullies at her school.
Right then, Ward knew that she needed to do something to help the victims of bullying. According to Ward, Connor represents one of about 4,600 kids who take their own lives every year in the United States.
Ward got busy and started a business — Confidence Eliminates Bullying. The business hopes to create confident, emotionally intelligent children and adults who believe in themselves rather than the mean words of a bully.
She also wrote a book, "Get Clear Get Confident Get Going,’’ which was discovered by Buni Alex, a missionary in Uganda in 2015.
"Since then, his life began to change from using the information in the book," Ward said. "He wanted more."
During the next several years, Ward and Alex became friends and business associates with a common goal of helping bully victims. Last month, Alex arranged for Ward to travel to Uganda to teach the Confidence Eliminates Bullying principles.
The image of the white dress and 1,000 children became reality. Ward then realized the significance of the dream.
"What I accomplished was beyond my wildest imagination," Ward said. "I was amazed that I could have that much of an impact as quickly as I did."
Ward’s philosophy of teaching is simple but successful. Her TAG method stands for Talents, Abilities and Gifts, which are unique to each child. In a recent trip to Uganda, Ward used her TAG method to create change.
In Uganda, beating children is all too common. Ward’s mission during her March 2018 trip was to teach adults to replace physical abuse with a positive, confidence-instilling approach using the TAG method.
One example was her success within the pastor’s immediate family.
"The floors are dirt (in Uganda), and the pastor’s children would spill water on the dirt floor when washing their feet," Ward said. "Instead of beating his kids for spilling water like he was used to, I taught him to see the children for who they were."
Ward, who trained more than 7,000 children, teachers, parents, pastors, farmers and other business owners on how to eliminate bullying, focuses on "teaching the teachers."
During her journey, Ward taught Ugandan adults to speak positively to children, resulting in a boost of confidence within the youngsters.
"Parents, teachers and pastors stopped bullying," Ward said. "They learned to respect children for who they are."
Ward now wants to expand her anti-bullying program in the United States. Teaching confidence may not stop bullies, she said, but it can help kids accept themselves and their flaws so they can deflect bullies’ comments.
"If kids don’t believe the bully, they can’t be hurt," Ward said. "They accept themselves for who they are and say to the bully, ‘what’s your point?’ "
Join Ward from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. May 3 for a presentation at the Red Ginger at 1700 W. New Haven Avenue in Melbourne. Ward will share stories from her trip and discuss what she wants to do in Brevard County to deal with bullying.
See photo gallery online at vieravoice.com/Galleries/index.php/gallery/905/