Bullying, Caring with Hines, Elvis, and Heroes

I had promised this some time ago, but didn’t want to just type some words about such an important issue. Bullying. So important, that WTAE has joined Highmark Healthy High 5 for three town hall meetings, and  a subsequent special on the subject. These  bright, young people were all presenters at the New Beginning pep rally in the Mars Area School district, back on September 18. Students from kindergarten through eighth grade filled the stands at the Mars Area Athletic Complex. Students told of being pushed, stared at because of a disability, or called names while riding the bus. All 2000 students at the pep rally wore white, and it was encouraging to see their enthusiasm. The pep rally was the way this district chose to launch its participation in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.

An expert in the program is James Bozigar , shown here at the rally with Lesley Kennedy, a guidance counselor at Mars Area Centennial School, and, next to her, Ian Magness, the principal there. Mr Magness is coordinator of the program that pulls the school community together to combat bullying and create an atmosphere in which it is not tolerated.

 

James Bozigar, shown here on the far left, was also part of our town hall panel. The first meeting was at Mt. Lebanon High School, where Dr. Matthew Masiello from the Windber Research Institute and Amy Whealdon, a counselor in the Mt. Lebanon also joined the panel as experts in the best ways to deal with bullying and your child. Sheldon Ingram hosted the second town hall meeting at Mars Middle School, and I will host a third one, on November 13, somewhere in the Pittsburgh School District. 

Coincidentally, The Caring Team Kick-Off Luncheon at Heinz Field was held the same morning as our first town hall meeting on bullying prevention.  Grieving children, and the  Highmark Caring Place, which counsels them, are also part of Healthy High 5. Hines Ward, who is one of our co-captains on the Caring Team, got the day off from practice from Coach Tomlin. The Steelers have been immensely supportive of the Caring Team for years. Hundreds of students were on hand, and they went nuts when Hines walked into the room, decked out in these cool suspenders (I love them!) and shoes to die for. Max Starks is another co-captain for the Team, but seniority has its privileges, and he couldn’t get out of his team meetings. Each of the schools involved works hard to raise awareness about the Caring Place.And less than a week before, at Heinz Field,  this guy did the most amazing imitation of Elvis. Recognize him? This is DVE’s Jimmy Krenn after his knock-em-dead performance at the Voices Carry fundraiser for the Children of Auberle. It was the best Voices Carry ever, and DVE’s Randy Baumann gets a lot of the credit hosting and organizing it. Andrew, Stockey,  Stephen Cropper, and I were there, but, thank goodness, we didn’t sing. The last time Mike Clark and I did that, NO ONE voted for us, and Mike screamed at me. Told me he didn’t know I was tone deaf. I was abominable. I still love him. Auberle has been dedicated to taking care of abused, neglected and troubled children and their families for 55 years in Southwestern Pennsylvania. 

And one last note. I don’t have any photos, but I want to thank the organizers of the Autism Speaks dinner at Southpointe several weeks ago. The chairs were Don and Donna Lund and their dedication to the cause, and their children, is so humbling. When I think of the banalities of my life that consume me, I think of this family who have become such great crusaders in trying to solve the disturbing riddle of this condition.

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