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Playwright to visit Connellsville's Carnegie Free Library on Monday

| Friday, April 26, 2013, 6:30 p.m.

Robert Hensley is a published playwright, professional makeup artist and licensed aesthetician. He has been a contributing author to numerous trade publications and is known for the sophisticated makeup created for his celebrity clients.

But it's another topic that the Fayette County native will share when he visits the Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Hensley will host a frank discussion about bullying and read excerpts from his young adult novella, “Leo's Love Story.”

And Hensley will be frank. After all, he can remember clearly what it was liked to be bullied in school.

“I was bullied in school and often thought that the only way to make it stop was to run away. There were several occasions when I contemplated doing worse, committing suicide. ‘Leo's Love Story' was born out of my own remembrances of growing up in a rural community and wishing to see the rest of the world,” Hensley said.

This is a one-night only program featuring tools and concepts from Cartoon Network's “Stop Bullying: Speak Up” campaign.

“I love programs like Cartoon Network's ‘Stop Bullying: Speak Up' because it puts the power in the hands of the bystander. It is a program that reminds everyone of how they can make a difference,” said Hensley, suggesting a visit to www.cartoonnetwork.com where teachers and parents can find tools and even a pledge that students can take to stand up and stop bullying.

“I attended the Bullskin Township Neighborhood Watch meeting that addressed bullying and how to combat it. One of the things that was talked about there is that the bullying issue is almost seen as an epidemic in our country, it's happening everywhere. We see it on television, the parents are bullying the kids, the kids are bullying the parents, and we see it progressing at an alarming rate, especially with the advent of cell phones and computers. There is a definite increase in cyber bullying, I've seen it and it was talked about a lot at the Bullskin meeting. Rob Hensley has materials provided by Cartoon Network and he will talk about face-to-face bullying and how now with technology how you can be bullied by someone many miles away,” said Shirley Rosenberger, a clerk at Carnegie Free Library who organized Monday's event.

“I think too many people shy away from talking about bullying and why it happens and how we all have responsibility to see that it doesn't. There are no witnesses in the bullying epidemic. There are only other bullies who don't say anything when they see it happening, because they think that it's okay or are cowards. Those who see it should speak up and stand up and say that it's wrong,” Hensley said.

All ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. There will be a limited number of books available for purchase and signing, $10 each. A portion of the proceeds benefit the library.

“Leo's Love Story” is a 2013 Los Angeles Book Festival Honorable Mention. Its website is www.leoslovestory.weebly.com.

Hensley has published three plays, the young adult novella, and is working on two screenplays. He lives in Los Angeles.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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