6-year-old Caydence Pinola-de Leon speaks out vs bullying

Gap-toothed public speaker from Queens

By Vicky Vitug

“I’m calling on all of you! I need you to take a stand to help stop and prevent bullying. If you see something, say something to an adult or trusted guardian.  Share laughter and share a smile.  Always be kind to others.”

If there’s a TED Talks for kids, Caydence Pinola-de Leon, a 6-year-old student from a Queens public school, is sure to make a lasting impression.

The New York-born Caydence, a straight A student at PS 390Q, or The Civic School of Bayside Hills, was chosen to represent her school in a Soapbox public speaking competition for students. The bubbly girl was a standout after she called on children to stop the meanness and take a stand against bullying.

“Always be kind to others and be the one good friend to help save a life and fix a broken heart,” she exhorted.

The girl spoke from the heart because she knew what it felt to be bullied. Her mother said that when she was in kindergarten, Caydence was tormented by a classmate who said hurtful things and messed up her tambourine by writing on it with crayons. She was a victim.

“She expressed everything to me at home crying,” said her mother Casey, who calls her “Princess Panda” because of her adorable chubby cheeks. “Upon reaching out to the teachers, they promptly set up a meeting over the phone to discuss everything openly and apologized that this occurred.  They emphasized that the bully’s behavior would not be tolerated as per school policy, and they would reach out to the parents of the other student.”  

Caydence (left) with parents Charles and Casey and brothers Carlos & Coach.

The bullying stopped and the girls – both Asians — became friends. However, the traumatic experience has stayed with Caydence and made her conscious of people who speak awful words to others.   The impact left her with a resolve to speak out against bullying when she was selected to represent her school and district in the regional and nationwide competition.

According to Casey, her daughter wrote the anti-bullying speech in class and recorded a video at home to be submitted to her school.   Caydence and another student were chosen to represent their school and District 26 of Queens, NY. 

Caydence is probably a little mature for her age because she likes to speak about issues even adults would rather shy away from. In next year’s Soapbox Main Event, she is excited to “speak about inclusion,” according to her mother.   She wanted to raise awareness about “neurodiverse individuals” like her brothers who both have Autism, Cerebral Palsy and ADHD.

Caydence was born in Queens but her grandparents are from Cebu and Pampanga. Her mother is completing her B.S. in Early Childhood Education. Her father works in an appliance manufacturing company. She is the middle child of three siblings, an elder and a younger brother. Her grandmother Myrna de Leon, who was born in Bacolod, was an active member of the community and worked as a senior nurse at Jamaica Hospital in Queens.   

Last December 2021, she was inaugurated into her school’s student council in the presence of district representatives and NY Senator John Liu. During the ceremony she showed intelligence and maturity beyond her years. She said, “I chose to participate in the student council because I truly want to help others.  We rise by lifting others.  During my time in student office, I hope to accomplish positive changes by promoting inclusion and civic leadership.”

A woke kid with a curious awareness about things around her, Caydence appears to have the makings of a great leader. A future great leader born in 2015!  Way to go girl!

© The FilAm 2022

One Comment

  1. Charles Pinola wrote:

    My wife and I along with Caydence’s siblings couldn’t be more proud of her for expressing herself and a topic so many other young children don’t think about this day and age. She has inspired me to be more patient and loving in my own day to day life. I intend to spread her message and bring awareness of how my daughter along with so many others who have dealt with being bullied can rebound and become stronger and more self confident in the future.

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