Over a thousand students from 44 Baldwin County schools met at Premier Cinemas in the Eastern Shore Centre Wednesday, January 21, 2015. All were members of the Peer Helpers program found in all Baldwin County schools. The conference was put on by the Jennifer Clair Moore Foundation. The kids were not only taught how to recognize bullying and students in need of help, but also how to use their inner strengths to make a difference.
Bullying is something kids see nearly every day. Wednesday, 1,100 school kids from around Baldwin County came together to learn how to recognize and combat bullying on campus. All are part of Baldwin County Schools' Peer Helper Program and while peers may need help for a variety of reasons, bullying is one that can cause the most harm. Who better to talk about the problem than another student.
"They talk the same language. They're at the same place in their lives," said Allison Faircloth of the Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation, sponsor of the event. "That's why they reach out to them first, but it's met knowing what to say. Not only that, hey I'm here for you, but if it's a true crisis situation or something as we say is bigger than them, they know the resources and people to go to, to get that person the help they need."
Elementary, Middle and High School groups heard special guest speakers from KARMA, (Kids Against Ridicule, Meanness and Aggression) and Youth Light. They learned how to recognize bullying and how to intervene. They also learned how to become better leaders through identifying their strengths and the strengths of their peers.
"A good portion of my presentation is teaching the kids the dangers of cyber bullying, what cyber bullying is and why it affects them and a big portion of my middle school and elementary school presentations deal with cyber safety," explained KARMA founder, Jessica Brookshire.
The kids at the event really seemed to take the message to heart.
"She was talking about bullying and how to handle with bullying and I have been bullied because I'm smaller than everyone else and so it would help me a lot," said fifth grader, Mary Elizabeth from J. Larry Newton School.
"The biggest problem I see at our school is basically just fighting. You know, we've got all these fights, but it's just the dumb things that they fight about," Dylan Stallworth of Foley Middle School said.
And lots of these students plan on using what they've learned as starting as soon as they get back to school.
"I didn't quite realize the full potential of being a Peer Helper until now, cause now I realize I can go to somebody and I can talk to them," Hunter Sessions of Daphne Middle School said. "I can help lead people in the right direction and set them on the right course or path."
"I'm just going to go around...if they want to get in a fight, I'm going to tell them it's pointless to get in a fight and gossip about other people so they will get in a fight with you because fights...they just hurt other people and it's really pointless because it's not going to matter in your life," Haley Strickland from Central Baldwin Middle School said.
Good words of wisdom from our next generation of leaders.
The Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation that hosted today's event aims to provide youth with knowledge, resources and confidence to successfully navigate the day to day pressures of life.