Aaron Nola delivers the message: "Shred Hate, Choose Kindness."

Mike DeNardo/KYW Newsradio

Nola drops by North Philly school with anti-bullying message

January 23, 2019 - 2:06 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Kids at a Juniata elementary school heard a big-league anti-bullying message Wednesday morning — from a real big-leaguer.

The auditorium at Hopkinson Elementary erupted as Phillies ace and Cy Young Award candidate Aaron Nola entered. Instead of fastballs, he delivered the message:  "Shred Hate, Choose Kindness."

Nola said even as a kid, he was bullied.

"It did happen, on buses, going back home, going to school," he said. "I've seen bullies bully other kids on the buses and get into fighst and stuff like that."

He said even today he and other athletes can be bullied with angry posts on social media.

"I just try to not look at those. And if I do, it doesn't mean anything to me. Because I know who my friends are, and I know who's going to be respectful to me," Nola said.

Former big-leaguer Billy Bean came out as gay after his playing career. Now, he's a Major League Baseball's VP and ambassador for inclusion. 

He says the "Shred Hate" campaign has expanded to four cities this year: Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas and Pittsburgh.

"I wanted to create an envronment where our players could really impact kids for every part of the diversity spectrum," Bean said. "And bullying does not discriminate."

Fourth-grader Shaniah Brown said she didn't expect to see Nola in her auditorium.

"I was like kind of surprised it was Aaron Nola," she siad. "I wasn't expecting him because, he's like, too good of a player. But I was excited because he's one of my favorite players."

Shaniah says she'll take his anti-bullying message to heart.