Around Town: Perfect time for anti-bullying concert, message

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A news story last week really struck me.

The story was about a student leaving a football game last Friday outside of Memorial Stadium in Wilkes-Barre following the Holy Redeemer vs. Holy Cross football game. A “defenseless student” was attacked; his headphones were stolen. Five males were seen running down the street afterwards. The nearby surveillance camera lost sight.

How sad.

As I was reading it, I kept thinking about that young man. I thought about how terrible he must have felt. How angry, depressed or shocked he must have been.

I know these types of things happen, but they still bother me.

Growing up, I was always awkward. I had my share of kids in grade school and middle school who didn’t like me. I wasn’t a tough kid and didn’t have many friends in my early years, so it was easy to make fun of me.

I still remember kids whispering and laughing about my high-pitched voice and my awkward body movements which I still have today (my hands move faster than my mouth many times when I’m speaking).

I can relate to how I’m sure he must have felt — as I’m sure many readers of that story could, too.

In a way, it was perfect timing for #STOPTHEBULL, an all-ages concert benefiting anti-bullying programs, on Thursday night.

The club inside the Woodlands filled up with high-school aged kids, chaperones and security thanks to organizer Zak Kornfeld.

Apparently, rap beats are “the thing” in high schools these days. While it wasn’t my type of music, both Sandra Moosic, the program supervisor for anti-bullying programs at Catholic Social Services, and I agreed we appreciated the talent and effort. It was incredible to see the room light up with so many young people, promoting the demise of bullying. The words “stop the bull” were heard multiple times throughout the night and during music breaks.

Money raised from the night will go to CSS’s programs, where the goal is to create safer, kinder climates in schools by teaching empathy, acceptance and diversity.

The program, which is funded by the United Way of Wyoming Valley, is currently in just three school districts locally, but the goal is to expand, eventually reaching every student – bullies, victims, student leaders, etc.

CSS runs a four-week curriculum in the schools. It turns into a conversation for the students and a way for them to express themselves.

I don’t remember anything like that when I was in school.

Hopefully the students participating in these programs understand the significance of the discussions.

Our Thursday columnist, Maria Jiunta Heck, wrote a simple message in her last writing: Be kind.

While her column referenced adults that day, the simple, succinct message applies to all people — especially kids. With school shootings, suicide, and violence happening across the country, it’s important we reach children in their formative early years.

I applaud the United Way of Wyoming Valley for its yearly “Poverty to Possibility” campaign which focuses on early childhood education, health and family financial stability.

They get it.

We all need to look at the children around us to see how we can make an impact before it’s too late.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of The Bridge just finished its “100 Matches in 100 Days” volunteer recruitment campaign. It was promoted regularly in this newspaper. You can still volunteer to help children who need more attention.

If you don’t have the time or the resources to dedicate to the United Way or Big Brothers Big Sisters, that’s OK, too.

You can simply call any of the organizations referenced in this column to learn more.

In fact, my new friend Sandy Moosic from Catholic Social Services invites anyone reading this to call her to discuss anti-bullying.

She’s open to conversations, ideas and anything that can further the mission of such a vital program.

Her number is 570-822-7118.

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Mike McGinley is the Times Leader Media Group’s major accounts executive. Reach him at [email protected] or 570-704-3945.

Mike McGinley is the Times Leader Media Group’s major accounts executive. Reach him at [email protected] or 570-704-3945.