How This 15-Year-Old Diana Award Recipient's Family Tragedy Inspired Her to Help Others
Bailey Dunbar founded Morgan's Mission Memorial Society to raise awareness about mental health, the adverse effects of bullying and suicide prevention
Bailey Dunbar is only 15 years old, but she’s already seen more tragedy than many face in a lifetime. Her twin sister, Morgan, committed suicide when they were just 13 years old after her sister was targeted by bullies.
Two years later, the Fort Saskatchewan, Canada, native is channeling her loss into something powerful. She’s now honoring Morgan’s memory by fighting bullying and cyber-bullying, and working on raising mental health awareness among young people.
Bailey is leading the charge on anti-bullying with her organization, Morgan’s Memorial Mission Society. The group engages in volunteer work to combat bullying and encourage kindness and inclusivity — and won a Diana Award for her efforts last year. The Diana Award is given out in the late Princess Diana’s name to young role models, ages 9-18 from across the world who are transforming the lives of others. (To nominate a young changemaker for this year’s Diana Award, which will be presented at a ceremony in London this May, click here.)
Dunbar faced bullies of her own after her sister’s death. After Morgan’s suicide, one of the bullies who had tormented her turned his attention towards Bailey. The abuse got so bad, that at a point, her parents were forced to get the police involved, she says. The bully was later made to apologize and stop contacting Bailey.
Seeing the treatment her sister suffered through her own eyes, Bailey was inspired to make a change. She founded Morgan’s Memorial Mission Society, and with the help of her mom, she was granted official non-profit status.
“After I experienced what it was like to be bullied, I finally understood why you wouldn’t want to go to school or go out,” Bailey says. “I decided to take action because after having my own experience, I realized it’s not okay.
“A lot of people are insecure about themselves, and they’ll take it out on other people instead of talking about it.”
Morgan’s Mission Memorial Society has been involved in several projects that hope to spark conversation about bullying, mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Bailey has hosted a benefit concert with Robb Nash, done multiple events with Project Semicolon, another suicide prevention and mental health organization, in her hometown of Edmonton and around Alberta, Canada, and spoke out about her own bullying story and losing her sister on “Beautiful Me Day.”
She’s also been working with local government officials, as well as the Canadian ministers of health, education and justice, to help create anti-bullying legislation in the country. Bailey worked with Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur and Jessica Littlewood, a member of the legislative assembly, on a proclamation for World Suicide Prevention Day in the town in 2015.
“They were shocked that at such a young age, that I’m doing all of this to change how people see mental illness and bullying,” she said of her experience working with the government ministers.
Also in her hometown, Bailey, along with a committee of local parents, has created a “Protective Guardian” award, which is given to a student or young person who has actively worked against bullying in their school or community.
Leading an organization that encourages kindness and inclusivity made Bailey a perfect fit for the Diana Award, which she received in 2016. The Diana Award also created National Kindness Day, celebrated on March 31, in the late royal’s honor.
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Winning the award has inspired Bailey to continue on her path with Morgan’s Mission. Making the award even more meaningful, Bailey says, is the fact that her sister and Diana shared a lot of the same qualities: kindness, compassion and a genuine desire to help others.
“My mom said when I was asked about Princess Diana my face and eyes lit up the way they do when I talk about Morgan,” Bailey said. “She really did have a lot of qualities the Princess Diana had. Diana was the People’s Princess, she was kind, caring and wanted to help other people out.
“To me, that is Morgan.”
Nominate a young hero for the Legacy Award in memory of Princess Diana. If they’re chosen they could be one of 20 winners from around the world sent to London to receive their award in May. Submit your nomination here by March 17 at 5:00 p.m. GMT.