Albemarle & Charlottesville Schools Come Together for Unity Day
Wednesday Charlottesville and Albemarle County schools encouraged students to stand up for victims of bullies as part of Unity Day.
However, funding is running out for the organization that supports bullying prevention projects in the city and county. The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Project fears that could stop the momentum for prevention efforts like Unity Day.
Teachers and students at Monticello High School put on bright orange shirts Wednesday to unite in support of kids victimized by bullies. The student group "Monticello Student Prevention" handed out orange ribbons and asked classmates to sign a petition to stand up for bullying victims.
"We're here if they ever need help," said MHS senior Dawn Shields. "And we're trying to do things to show people it's not acceptable to bully people."
Shields wants everyone to unite in the battle against bullies. She said, "Everyone should come together in order to stop this."
Orange outfits and a bullying prevention pledge got students to take charge during the Unity Day held at Walker Upper Elementary School. "We want students to realize they can do something to help other students, that they can help out if they're seeing bullying happening," said Charlotte Geddy, a counselor at Walker Upper Elementary.
The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Project started in Albemarle County and Charlottesville schools in 2009. Surveys show a nearly 27 percent reduction in student-reported bullying since then.
"I think kids are understanding that even though these things still happen, and I think they probably always will, I think kids are more aware of what they can personally do," Safe Schools/Healthy Students Project Director June Jenkins said.
Still, 3.5 percent of all middle school students admit to being victimized weekly. Jenkins and her team of classroom coordinators worry schools will go backward when the project's five-year federal funding ends in June 2013.
Jenkins said, "We really want the community to know it's going to be all of us now that will have to take up this mantle and make sure this good progress continues."
Jenkins plans to lobby school boards in the city and county to get local funding to keep these efforts going next school year.
The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Project has anti-bullying events scheduled all month. Click here for more details.
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