Mod Pizza - Elkhart uses windows to rally for Rio and stand up against bullying

ELKHART, Ind., --An Elkhart business is celebrating the life and legacy of northside middle school student, Rio Allred. Last month, the 12-year-old girl died by suicide. Her family believes it was the result of bullying.

“Be kind and stay weird” is the message written on the windows of Mod Pizza.

I spoke with the general manager, Samantha Legoult, and she wanted people to know that Mod is weird and kind, and everyone should feel welcomed when they walk through the doors.

The window art is an extension of the legacy Rio Allred left behind and a message of acceptance. The staff at Mod saw her story and was touched, so they wanted to remind all kids that enter that they are heard and seen.

Legoult, a mother herself, said that in light of the tragedy she's opening Mod’s doors to anyone who needs help.

“Mod is a safe place. If you ever need somewhere to go, need somebody to talk to, myself, my staff are all here. We’re all welcoming. There’s no such thing as weird here. We’re all weird here,” said Legoult.

When people walk through the doors of Mod Pizza in Elkhart the window art is sure to catch your eye.

Mod workers say that not every customer is aware of Rio’s story, and they're trying to change that. So far, it has sparked conversation about bullying—a topic that could save a child’s life.

Legoult said that her staff wants people to stand up to bullying.

“It’s not just here in Elkhart, it happens everywhere. All kids need to know that they are heard and they are seen. Just because you’re bullied by one person, there are many people out here that are there to talk to and let us know so we can do something about it.”

After a the community called for actionElkhart Community Schools is working with parents to better address bullying within the district.

With permission from Allred’s parents, Steve’s Gym in Elkhart is hosting a free Anti-Bullying Workshop in her honor where students of any age can attend to learn how to defend themselves and build confidence Saturday, April 2. 

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