I think there are some pretty awesome individuals in the city of Memphis, some I happen to know personally, and others I admire from afar.
Since this is National Bullying Prevention Month, I thought it befitting to highlight one of these admired and awesome individuals in the city who’s doing some amazing work, specifically around bullying prevention.
More than 1 out of every 5 students report being bullied.
National Bullying Prevention Month is a nationwide campaign founded in 2006 by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. The campaign is held during the month of October and unites communities around the world to educate and raise awareness about bullying prevention. This campaign has grown from an initial week-long event to a worldwide effort with thousands of individuals participating in multiple activities throughout October.
Hundreds of schools, major corporations, and many celebrities have joined the movement. Take action and show that you care about kids being safe at school, while online, and in the community.
May I take a moment and introduce the Executive Director of UCAN of Memphis, Ms. Leshundra Robinson.
Here’s her story:
UCAN of Memphis – Anti-Bullying Program
Imagine a 3rd grader coming up to you after a presentation and saying, “Ms. Robinson, thank you for sharing your story about your brother and teaching us about bullying. I’ve been bullied before and I thought about committing suicide, but I talked to my uncle and he told me not to do it.” Stories like these come more often than you think and closer to home than anyone wants to imagine. Six years ago, my brother committed suicide over mental illness of depression. In a letter, he left for me in his car under the dashboard read, “Make sure people get help over mental illness. I know what I did was a selfish act, but I knew you would be ok because you are strong.” What he didn’t know was I wasn’t as strong as he thought, but because he thought I was I had to hold on to what he believed and get help myself so I could be as strong as he thought I was.
Although my family and I debated whether or not he was bullied in school, I knew how he felt at times but being young myself, I didn’t pay attention. Now as an adult, I understand the signs he left that showed me he was depressed and unhappy with school and life. I made a vow to not let anyone else fall short on my watch. After a year of recovery, I talked with our board to ask how can we help with this epidemic. They all agreed to join in and fight against bullying and mental health. We took a stand against bullying and starting to research who we could partner with. Pacer Inc, JC Penny and StopBullying.gov were excellent resources and partners to bring awareness to bullying. I asked God what did He want to name it. He said to stop giving away my energy. I thought about the concept and presented it to my board. They all agreed and named our anti-bullying program STOP the G.A.M.E. which stands for Stop Giving Away My Energy.
The facts are according to the Bullying in U.S. Schools: 2014 Status Report, on average, 14 percent of students report being bullied while 5 percent report bullying others. The percentage of students who report being bullied decreases steadily with increasing grade level. While 22 percent of third-graders report being bullied two to three times a month or more, by eighth grade this decreases to 15 percent, and by twelfth grade to 7 percent. Bullying can have serious effects during the school years and into adulthood. One of the best tools that schools have for decreasing the problems associated with bullying behavior is to implement evidence-based prevention programs.
Due to the amount of bullying perpetrated by students who are also bullied two to three times a month or more (sometimes referred to as bully-victims) increases with age for boys but stays relatively constant for girls, the bullying prevention program is needed. Nearly one-quarter of high school boys who are bullied report that they also bully others, which is much higher than the rate that occurs for elementary and middle school boys.
Each year during the month of October, which is recognized for Bullying Prevention Month, we go into various schools and conduct workshops, presentations and speaking engagement all ending with students and teachers taking the pledge to not bully. Since the conception of the bullying program, we have hosted 4 anti-bullying conferences and recently on Oct 7, 2017, we partnered with Mt. Vernon Baptist Church-Westwood Youth Development to present their Fear No One Anti-Bulling Conference. On this day, the City of Memphis and Shelby County Government provided a proclamation to note thereof Oct 7th would be proclaimed as Fear No One Anti-Bullying Day. This is a major monument for both Westwood Youth Development and UCAN of Memphis.
UCAN offers workshops, presentations, plays and other interactive activities that will show parents, students, faculty members how to manage conflict resolution as well as prevent bullying at school and at home. We want to raise the awareness of a battle that is kept quiet in schools and at homes in fear of losing funding and credentials. We no longer can accept students telling us they have been a victim of bullying and when they told someone, the person told them to get over it.
UCAN of Memphis is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen young adolescents through mentoring, workforce development and bullying awareness which will bring forth a positive growth in the community.
We are seeking enthusiast volunteers who can dedicate 5 hours a month to help in the classroom with leadership development and character building for anti-bullying. Some of our work is grant funded but the majority of our work is funded by donation and sponsorships. If you would like to donate, become a sponsor, volunteer or board member, please visit www.ucanofmemphis.org and be sure to follow on social media (FB, IG and Twitter) @ucanofmemphis.