“In my high school years, it was at its worst,” she said. “I was completely isolated from everyone, basically to the point where I went through the day and did not talk to a single person ex-cept for faculty.”
Milter, of Druid Hills, got help, and then she said she wanted to start preventing the same scenario from happening to other children and teens.
“I said, ‘I don’t think this is right. I want to fight back against it.’… It’s more of a new outlook on life,” she said. “There are so many people in the same boat I was in. No one should have to go through that.”
In December, Milter spearheaded The Push Back Project with her friend Dorothy Sprague. The project is a nonprofit with a mission to help kids who are bullied and stop it from happening.
“It’s not easy to feel like you’re living life alone,” she said, “especially when there are so many people around you.”
Milter said the project’s monthly meetings are held the first Saturday of every month at Joli Kobe Bakery and Café in Sandy Springs, and sometimes at Gyro Gyro in Dunwoody.
“It’s an open meeting with anti-bullying activities and games,” she said. “I like to have one person share a story about their bullying experiences. … We’re building support groups. We’re all going through something similar.”
Ideally, Milter said she hopes to implement the project into school systems so “students can report bullying more confidentially and feel safer.”
“After-school programs would be great, too,” she said. Milter has been in touch with a few metro area middle schools and high schools, but she said she knows it will take time for school administrations to trust the project’s mission.
“I meet so many people that say, ‘I wish something was there when I was that age,’” she said. “If we could always be there for each other, life would be much easier.”
Right now, Milter works out of her house but plans to open an office and a “hang-out” area as the organization grows.
She said metro Atlanta kids as young as 9 attend the meetings, but the largest group consists of late middle-schoolers to early high-schoolers.
October marks National Bullying Prevention Month, and Milter said she hopes the project touches more people and develops a broader following.
“We would love it for more people to join and no one would ever feel out of place,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to ever feel so depressed from bullying.”
Spencer Williams, a Druid Hills resident and project volunteer, said he loves how the organization brings people together.
“I just always see a lot of these people are very alone,” Williams said. “Everyone needs something to be a part of.”