New Orleans business owner shows kindness to bullying victims

ABBEVILLE, La. – Social media can be a tool that will be used forever, and it was. Some share their lives and their greatest moments.

Sometimes it’s the way you bring your stories to the attention of Eyewitness News. Through social media, I became aware of a viral story about a young man named Tay’shawn Landry who lives in Abbeville, a town in Vermillion Parish.

Some students at Abbeville High School considered this a senior prank. A video surfaced of students riding in the electronic wheelchair Tay’shawn uses at school, making fun of him and people with special needs. Tay’shawn suffers from cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.

When Tay’shawn learned of the video, he and his family were devastated. His mother shared a passionate message about her heartbreak on social media, which was shared hundreds of times.

News reached New Orleans, prompting local business owner DJ Johnson to come forward. He had invited Tay’shawn and his family to his Baldwin and Co. bookstore for no other reason than to show kindness.

“We saw the story and wanted to make sure the world knew that small, random acts of kindness can change the world,” Johnson said.

He enlisted the help of regular Baldwin & Co. customers, prompting them to utter words of kindness and encouragement on a plaque at the entrance to the cafe.

Some would say that being kind has become a lost art, especially on social media.

The United States Surgeon General recently released a 25-page report calling for more research into the impact of social media on young people’s mental health. The recommendation notes that social media poses a “significant risk of harm” to children.

With that in mind, Johnson enlisted the help of a therapist to give Tay’shawn and his family an outlet.

“Kindness can go a long way,” says Lindsey Jennings of the Brightside Therapy Collective. “That’s all we have, that’s the only thing untouched by social media or technology and the way we interact with the world.”

Tay’shawn and his family also received many books as gifts. Clothing was donated to Tay’shawn by an Atlanta, Georgia-based organization called Caring for Others.

They capped off their amicable day with a royal lunch, a special request from Tay’shawn of steak and potatoes. He is sitting at the table with his family and his new friends.

Two women from the Abbeville community set up a GoFundMe for Tay’shawn after the loaner wheelchair used in the video failed to charge. The GoFundMe is designed to help people buy their own wheelchair.

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