#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Optimus Prime brings anti-bullying message to Pleasant Valley – Times News Online

Published October 28. 2020 02:45PM

The children at Pleasant Valley Elementary School had a special visitor last week – Optimus Prime.

The very real truck was transformed into the replica of the Transformer franchise hero by Joe Fiduccia of Effort and 25 assistants. It is the only replica of Optimus Prime in the world. Only two of the original seven trucks used in the filming of the Transformer movies still exist.

Fiduccia said he wanted to create the legendary hero to inspire his son, who has encountered bullies just like he did.

“Let’s use this iconic character that stands for so much good, and loop it into what these kids already know and show them that if Optimus Prime can stand up to bullies, then so can I,” he said.

In the Transformer movies and originally the Marvel comic book series, Optimus Prime leads the Autobots to defeat Megatron and the Decepticons.

Fiduccia contacted Hasbro, which owns the trademark for the character, and got permission to make the replica. After a lot of work without a pattern or exact measurements, only photographs, he and his crew had a nearly identical copy of the Optimus Prime version in the 2014 movie “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Now, he takes the truck to fundraisers to help draw a crowd, children’s hospitals, and goes around the country to schools with an anti-bullying message.

“I know what it’s like to be bullied,” Fiduccia said. “Even to this day I get bullied. I know how bullies can hurt them and make them sad and make them not want to do the things they want to do.”

The assembly was held because October is Bully Awareness Month.

With Transformers music playing and Optimus Prime in the background, the children stood outside socially distanced from one another and listened to Fiduccia speak.

He talked to them about what it means to be bullied, how bullies say and do mean things, and they can be children and adults. He wants them to know they can stand up to bullying and not let them get in the way of their dreams.

“We want to help you with that,” he said, referring to himself and Optimus Prime. “We don’t like bullies. We don’t like what they stand for.”

He told the children that if they want to they can take a stand against bullying and sign an anti-bullying pledge card back in their classroom.

“Optimus Prime and I show bullies that no matter what they do, they will never hurt us. They will never stop us. They will never prevent us from living our lives and doing whatever we dream of doing. We want to show those bullies they have no power over us or the lives that we live,” he said. “No matter what you encounter in your lifetime, don’t let someone’s words stop you from living your life.”

After the presentation, the children had an opportunity to walk up to see Optimus Prime before going back to class.

Pleasant Valley Elementary School Principal Roger Pomposello said about the presentation, “I love it. I think it’s outstanding. The kids look up to Optimus Prime.”

Whether the kids have seen the movies or not, the truck is amazing, he said.

Fiduccia said about the truck, “Even just his presence alone is enough for what we are trying to do.”

In addition to looking impressive, the truck can say up to 100 words and can make white smoke from dry ice billow out of its six smoke stacks.

“It almost comes to life,” Fiduccia said.

This presentation was abridged, due to COVID-19, so there wasn’t any truck talking or smoke billowing, but Fiduccia did make two trips to the school on Tuesday and Thursday for multiple mini-presentations to make sure all of the children in the hybrid program and cyber academy had a chance to see Optimus Prime.

“The kids were so excited to see it, because it’s real and very motivating,” kindergarten teacher Misty Falcone-Smith said. “They just thought it was awesome,” she said.

The teachers talk to the children often about bullying and the importance of being kind to everyone, but the truck drove the message home.

Joe Fiduccia, owner of the Optimus Prime replica, talks to a group of children at Pleasant Valley Elementary School on Thursday about not letting bullies get in the way of their dreams. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS
This replica of Optimus Prime from the movie “Transformers: Age of Extinction” looks almost identical to the one in the movie. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS
Joe Fiduccia, owner of the Optimus Prime replica, talks to a group of children at Pleasant Valley Elementary School on Thursday about not letting bullies get in the way of their dreams. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS
This replica of Optimus Prime from the movie “Transformers: Age of Extinction” looks almost identical to the one in the movie. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS




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