Our Community Is Working to Prevent Youth Bullying

More than 30 adults and young people joined members of the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force on November 19 in attending a Community Café on the topic of youth bullying.

A young woman opened the discussion at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center by sharing inspirational words based on her experiences with being bullied. She tasked all attendees with homework to put an end to bullying when it happens, and to listen to young people when they come to adults for help.

cafe1

The GIAC Navigators performed an original rap song “Stop Bullying” that encouraged attendees to find common ground.

The event included a short but powerful video posted on YouTube by Spokane, Washington, Public Schools that included interviews with youth of all ages about bullying.

cafe3

Participants then engaged in small-group conversations to share their own experiences, discuss existing resources and strategies, and offer ideas for bullying prevention. The information provided the attendees will be provided to the Task Force for consideration in its work.

cafe8

cafe4

cafe7

Representatives from more than two dozen local government agencies, community organizations, and local schools formed the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force earlier this year to explore the prevalence of youth, teen, and young adult bullying and strategies to combat it.

The Task Force plans further community cafe events throughout the county in 2020.

To learn how to participate in the Task Force’s work or inquire about future community cafe events, email thesophiefund2016@gmail.com

Bullying: We Need Your Voice

The Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force is launching a series of “community cafés,” starting with an event next Tuesday November 19 from 5:30 to 7 pm at the Greater Area Ithaca Center (GIAC) 301 West Court Street in Ithaca. The event is open to parents, students, professionals, educators, and all community members. Food and childcare will be provided.

communitycafe

A community café is a facilitated conversation that is used to spark creative ideas and solutions to local issues or concerns and that provides resources around a topic. The Task Force is keen to connect with local families in the community to learn about their experiences and thoughts around the topic of bullying in Tompkins County.

Specifically, we seek to gauge the awareness of local resources within our community and help inform ourselves about the current strategies being used, and what new strategies might be needed to help our youth address this important topic with success within their daily lives. We will also be seeking what resources might be needed within Tompkins County to help provide better supports for the parents of youth who are struggling with bullying.

The Task Force intends to use the information gathered at this local event to inform the larger work of the Task Force, and also help ensure that our community partners are using our local resources to garner maximum impact. While it is not always possible to prevent every single episode of bullying, we are committed to working with our local families to create safe spaces for our youth, where conversations can be had with caring adults to help them address the issue of bullying, should it ever impact them or another child in their circles.

Earlier this year, representatives from more than two dozen local government agencies, community organizations, and local schools formed the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force to explore the prevalence of youth, teen, and young adult bullying and strategies to combat it.

We hope you will consider joining us for this very important conversation next Tuesday at GIAC. We look forward to working together to help make Tompkins County a bullying free zone for everyone! If you have any questions or need further information, please reach out to the Tompkins County Youth Services Department at (607) 274-5310.

—By Kate Shanks-Booth

Kate Shanks-Booth is the director of the Tompkins County Youth Services Department and a coordinator for the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force

Tompkins Marks County’s First “Bullying Prevention Day”

Some 200 people joined a rally at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center on October 7 in a passionate show of support for the first-ever Bullying Prevention Day in Tompkins County.

rally1

Taking a collective pledge not to bully

The rally featured a proclamation by the Tompkins County Legislature, speeches by Ithaca Police Chief Dennis Nayor, community leaders, and students, and performances by youth groups. A highlight of the rally came when attendees, wearing blue “Wash Away Bullying” t-shirts, took a collective pledge not to bully others.

“Every member of the Tompkins County community, government agencies, community organizations, school administrators, teachers, athletic coaches, parents, and students can play a part in creating a bully-free environment in our schools, athletics fields, public spaces, and online,” said Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne in reading the proclamation.

speeches

Speakers at the GIAC rally

Nayor noted that bullying can cause long-lasting struggles in people’s lives. “Some of the issues we see later on in people’s lives like criminal activity could be rooted in a person’s experiences being bullied,” Nayor said, as reported by the Cornell Daily Sun. “We at the police department are committed to trying to find solutions, and we’re open to being a resource to that.” Nayor encouraged victims of bullying to contact police if they need help.

Nayor

Ithaca Police Chief Dennis Nayor

Representatives from the Ithaca Youth Bureau, the Be the One campaign, and other organizations also attended the rally.

The rally included a performance by the GIAC Jumpers, a student dance, step, and double-dutch troupe. A group of second-to-fifth graders known as the Navigators performed a rap about kindness and a catchy rap-dance with a “don’t be a bully” message. Students also decorated the GIAC gym with handmade anti-bullying posters.

jumpers1

jumpers2

GIAC Jumpers

rallly2

“Wash Away Bullying”

The t-shirts, with the color blue in solidarity with World Day of Bullying Prevention, were produced by GIAC’s Bitty Box Teen Entrepreneurship Program and sponsored by The Sophie Fund.

The rally was sponsored by GIAC and the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force, formed earlier this year by more than two dozen government agencies, community organizations, and representatives from school districts to explore youth bullying prevention strategies.

poster

Anti-Bullying Pledge

Several Tompkins County schools also marked Bullying Prevention Day on their campuses. Students and staff in the Lansing Central School District wore blue for the occasion. Students in the Lansing Middle School wrote words of encouragement in the hallway on the heels of September’s Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month.

lansing1

lansing2

Lansing Central School District

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BULLYING PREVENTION IN TOMPKINS COUNTY

Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Day!

The Tompkins County Legislature on Monday designated October 7 to be “Bullying Prevention Day” throughout the county and encouraged schools, community organizations, government agencies, and others to strive for a “bully-free environment.”

proclamation

Martha Robertson, Legislature chair; Kate Shanks-Booth, director of the Tompkins County Youth Services Department; Bridgette Nugent, Task Force co-coordinator

Legislature Chair Martha Robertson issued a proclamation at the Legislature’s meeting that observes a Bullying Prevention Day for the first time in the county. Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Day falls on World Day of Bullying Prevention and within National Bullying Prevention Month in October.

The proclamation reads in part: “Every member of the Tompkins County community, government agencies, community organizations, school administrators, teachers, athletic coaches, parents, and students can play a part in creating a bully-free environment in our schools, athletics fields, public spaces, and online.”

The proclamation notes that more than two dozen government agencies, community organizations, parents, and representatives from the county’s six school districts formed the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force in March 2019. The Task Force’s mission is to facilitate comprehensive cooperation across the community in developing and promoting appropriate bullying prevention and response strategies in Tompkins County.

The Task Force is calling on Tompkins County schools to consider organizing special activities on October 7 in observance of Bullying Prevention Day. In a message sent to school districts, the Task Force suggests activities such as an all-school assembly featuring speakers, films, or skits; pledge-signing events; and walks/runs to raise awareness about bullying. The Task Force also asked teachers to consider classroom activities such as videos with follow-up discussions about tolerance and respect; and student presentations, creative writing assignments, or art projects on the bullying theme.

Click here to download the School Activities to Promote Bullying Prevention packet.

The Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) and the Task Force are organizing a rally for 4:30 pm on October 7 at the Bernie Milton Pavilion in the Ithaca Commons to mark Bullying Prevention Day. Students will begin a march from GIAC to the Bernie Milton Pavilion at 4:15 pm for a peaceful gathering suitable for all ages. There will be performances by GIAC Jumpers, a proclamation, poster making, and a Task Force announcement about bullying prevention activities. Participants are encouraged to wear blue as the color symbolizing the fight against bullying.

“The Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force is pleased to celebrate Tompkins County’s first Bullying Prevention Day,” said Bridgette Nugent, Task Force co-coordinator. “The primary goal of the Task Force is to mobilize all stakeholders in the community to recognize the negative impacts of bullying and to support efforts for its intervention and prevention. We hope that by raising awareness and energizing the community to address bullying on this day, we can further energize students, families, and community members to put an end to bullying in our county.”

Kate Shanks-Booth, director of the Tompkins County Youth Services Department, said that Bullying Prevention Day offered an important step forward.

“The Tompkins County Youth Services Department deals with all the different municipalities and school districts that are encompassed within Tompkins County,” she said. “We hear from our partners at every level that bullying is a major area of concern, as the physical and emotional trauma experienced during these events lasts a lifetime. We are doing our part, working with Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force and other local partners to ensure that every youth in Tompkins County can thrive in life, work, and school without the negative impacts of all types of bullying.”

Celia Clement, a longtime school social worker and Task Force member, said: “The key to creating caring, kind, inclusive and safe school cultures is to empower students to be the agents of change.”

Clement said that the Task Force hopes that schools will initiate regular activities to increase awareness, facilitate discussions, and create opportunities for critical thinking and problem solving as part of an ongoing exploration and discussion between staff and students.

“Healthy school communities flourish and are sustainable when students are the driving force in creating kind and inclusive cultures,” said Clement. “We anticipate that providing these opportunities for education and dialogue will serve as a catalyst for students to take ownership in initiating Upstander leadership programs that will be responsive to the unique needs of their schools.”

TCBullyingPreventionDay-social

Download the Bullying Prevention Day Poster [DOWNLOAD]

TC Bullying Prevention Day Proclamation

Download the Tompkins County proclamation [DOWNLOAD]

For more information, go to:

https://thesophiefund.org/bullying/

 

Our Community Walks to Prevent Suicide

Thanks to everyone who participated in Saturday’s annual “Out of the Darkness” Walk in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Our mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide would not be possible without you. This year, the 383 people taking part in the walk held in Myers Park in Lansing raised more than $34,000.

71323801_1685007258298438_4206894168347246592_n

AFSP started as a research-based organization, when a small group of families affected by suicide banded together with scientists who wanted to understand more. The funds raised in “Out of the Darkness” walks throughout the country help fund innovative and exciting research that will enable us to find better ways to stop suicide. This past year, AFSP invested nearly $5 million dollars in cutting edge scientific research.

The funds also help AFSP develop and share education programs like “Talk Saves Lives,” and “It’s Real,” a film about college students and mental health. These programs give people practical strategies for recognizing the warning signs, and preventing suicide in their communities. AFSP’s Interactive Screening Program gives students, workers, and veterans a safe way to reach out for support. Together, we are creating a culture that’s smart about mental health.

70349077_10220926288812678_6438053657698107392_n

70672486_1685006934965137_1106401399563878400_n

By joining us, walkers help us to provide support to the many people affected by suicide. In the Survivor Outreach Program, for example, those who have lost a loved one to suicide can receive a visit from a trained volunteer who is also a suicide loss survivor. This way, someone who is further along in their healing journey can share their wisdom about what helped them after their loss. Our annual Survivor Day events reach more families affected by suicide each year.

The funds also enable AFSP advocates in Washington to do their work of fighting to pass legislation that will save lives. Many states now have better mental health programs and mandatory suicide prevention training for teachers. This is real and lasting change.

By joining us in Myers Park Saturday, the walkers sent the message that mental health is as real as physical health, and that reaching out for help is the strong thing to do. The walkers showed others that suicide, which is currently the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, can no longer be swept under the rug.

As a community, we know we have much to do, as we lose close to 45,000 lives to suicide every year in our country. While we are saddened by these deaths, we also see them as a call to action for our nation to do more to prevent suicide. Our annual walks help us continue to fight for a day when no one will die by suicide. By walking with us, you honor the memory of the loved ones we’ve lost.

—By Crystal Howser

Crystal Howser is the co-chair of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Greater Ithaca Walk

70214398_10157556409874116_1241832842372055040_n

70379662_10157556409434116_6944177452876824576_n

afsp cookies

70202469_1685008058298358_7637566946057125888_n

70860541_1685007914965039_4444773242728611840_n

70322255_1685007931631704_3482186701357449216_n

70824416_1685007394965091_4679529820051210240_n

71062180_10157556408674116_5870643939085647872_n

70450435_10157556408504116_5537878411386552320_n

70169185_1685007431631754_1749427419036516352_n

70015226_1685006828298481_2843277674325999616_n

70394009_1685015161630981_4595049681649664000_n

Photo credits: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention & Friends

Click here for more information about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Central New York chapter

Click here to add your donation to the Out of the Darkness Walk

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the Crisisline (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]