With the goal of changing the world one friend at a time, Nashville Predators Player Colin Wilson joined Students Taking A Right Stand (STARS) today in launching a proactive bullying prevention effort created by two middle school students called Bee A Friend Campaign.
Proclaimed Bee A Friend Week by Governor Bill Haslam, STARS CEO Rodger Dinwiddie, also president of the International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA), and Wilson shared the campaign plans of middle school students Lauren Jernigan and Laurelle Campbell to reduce and eliminate bullying.
“This is an exciting community call to action to spread compassion and promote empathy by reducing the sense of isolation young people feel when they are bullied,” Dinwiddie said. “Their idea was presented to Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi at our Mid-South PeaceJam Affiliate’s event last year at Belmont. This is the culmination of their vision.”
Dinwiddie said focusing on social and emotional learning fosters empathy, prevents bullying, promotes healthy relationships and enhances positive student conduct as well as academic outcomes. Highly connected students, attending schools where empathy flourishes, are less likely to be perpetrators or victims of aggression and the Bee A Friend Campaign perfectly supports these important findings.
The Bee A Friend Campaign challenges the community to reach out and be a friend to someone new for at least a year with hopes of lifetime results. The STARS website and Facebook page outline the membership in partnership with Bee Attitudes, a Nashville-based positive attitude marketing initiative.
Wilson, who participated in a 2011 bullying prevention campaign, unveiled his public service announcement featuring STARS’ Kids On The Block puppet, Mark Reilly, who has cerebral palsy and doesn’t let it slow him down in helping kids understand differences of all kinds. Wilson’s PSA airs Saturday, January 18, at the Nashville Predators versus Colorado Avalanche game where the first 1,000 people get a Bee A Friend Campaign poster featuring Wilson and Reilly. Wilson also shares his commitment in a column for the Tennessean on January 19.
NewsChannel 5’s Lelan Statom, who was also part of the 2011 campaign, announced plans for a second PSA in which WRKN’s Dawn Davenport, Neil Orne and Justin Bruce as well as WSMV’s Kacy Hagerty, NewsChannel 5’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas, 102.5 The Game’s Willy Daunic and Great American Country’s Stacy McCloud will appear. Other notable area Nashvillians are also being invited to participate in the PSA to be produced by cinematographer Armanda Costanza.
Middle school students Jernigan and Campbell challenged schools and community groups to launch their own initiatives with a party for the winning idea. “Send a short two to five minute video to STARS website or Facebook page so your idea can inspire others to adopt their own Bee A Friend campaign. The winning idea will receive a Hunt Brothers Pizza and dessert party,” Jernigan said.
During Bee A Friend Week, on Thursday, January 23, California Pizza Kitchen at 4031 Hillsboro Pike #901, Nashville, TN (37215) is donating a portion of their sales that day to support the STARS Bee A Friend Campaign.
A nationally recognized and evidenced-based resource for student assistance, training and professional consultation, STARS assists students, families and schools with prevention, intervention and treatment services addressing bullying, substance abuse, violence, and social and emotional barriers to success. Founded in 1984 and lead by CEO Rodger Dinwiddie, current president of the International Bullying Prevention Association (IBPA), STARS staff operate in schools and community sites throughout Middle Tennessee via STARS Specialists, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services as well as through Youth Overcoming Drug Abuse (YODA) as a licensed alcohol and drug out-patience treatment facility. Their Kids On The Block puppetry program helps educate kindergarten through sixth grade students about health and social concerns that affect their lives while promoting an understanding and acceptance of all children and adults regardless of their differences.