By: Alicia Sands Lurry
Not in my school. Not on my watch.
Students at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy are taking a stand to combat the devastating impact of bullying with kind words, gestures and good deeds.
Earlier this week, Not In My School (NIMS) student ambassadors hosted a special assembly as part of “NIMS Week” to recognize National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. The event featured a special guest speaker and spoken word and creative dance performances, and helped kick off a bevy of activities designed to highlight bullying awareness.
Led by Melissa D. White, motivational speaker and founder of the nonprofit organization “Writing Our Wrongs,” dozens of CSK students were encouraged to use their voice to impact change in their community through writing and speech. During the assembly, White discussed “Are You M.A.D. Enough to Make a Decision?” and shared the importance of bullying prevention, social justice, and the need for young women to take a stand for others. Students also received pledge cards urging them to take a stand against bullying and prejudice.
In addition to hosting the assembly, NIMS ambassadors decorated their school in blue and wore their T-shirts designed by fellow NIMS Ambassador Faith Russell. They also distributed ribbons and encouraged teachers to decorate classroom doors promoting bullying awareness. As part of this week’s culminating activities, students will display banners and posters throughout the school and pass out treats and gift bags attached with kind notes.
Junior Jamea Lamar, NIMS assistant commander and first sergeant with JROTC at CSK, hopes the program will impact change in her school. She knows a classmate who is being bullied, and hopes that she’ll find strength and support through the program.
“I want her to get the help she needs and to know we’re all sisters,” Jamea said. “I want her to know that this is a safe place.”
According to Stopbullying.org, students who are bullied are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. Other effects include health complaints and decreased academic achievement and school participation. These same students also are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.
Dr. Mona Venning, JROTC instructor and NIMS co-chair, said NIMS is not only designed to combat and prevent bullying, but to also create a supportive place for students to learn and thrive. Dr. Venning co-chairs the program with school social worker Latanya Farrar.
“We want to help students so they can learn, focus on school, and feel safe in a friendly environment,” Dr. Venning said.
For more information about bullying prevention and awareness, please visit: http://www.stompoutbullying.org/.