On April 20, Nebraska young people paused for seven seconds of silence. These students and young adults were illustrating the statistic that every seven seconds someone in our country is bullied. Together, 61,709 students and youth in communities across Nebraska made a personal pledge to fight bullying and stand up for those who are bullied.
These actions, the signature event of ServeNebraska Global Youth Service Day activities, were the culmination of months of effort by the Nebraska InterCorps Council and AmeriCorps member Heather Millard.
While serving with RISE AmeriCorps (Rural Improvement for Schooling and Employment), Millard provides guidance to reduce recidivism and increase future prospects for probationers. In her work, Millard noticed that many of those she assisted had bullying in their pasts – as either perpetrator or victim -- and was driven to act.
Taking a Stand
Nebraska Stand for the Silent was launched. By connecting her work with a national effort, Millard was able to tap into the energy created by Kirk & Laura Smalley's Stand for the Silent, the creation of which was inspired by the tragic bullying-induced suicide of their eleven-year old son Ty. Millard channeled that same inspiration. She aimed big, securing enough materials to reach every school child in Nebraska.
It was a community effort. Supply donations were received from both local businesses and national companies. PSAs were produced by the University of Nebraska Athletic Department and local organizations. The day was declared to be Nebraska Stand for the Silent Day by Governor Dave Heineman.
Teachers, administrators, and youth group leaders from throughout Nebraska responded. Pledge cards and balloons were shipped to communities large and small, east and west. The map of those involved shows the vast reach of the project.
Much Done. Much to Do.
The response in Nebraska was amazing. Plans are already underway to replicate the event in 2013. However, much still needs to be done – in Nebraska and beyond. Each day seems to bring a story or a reminiscence of the tragic impacts of bullying.
What will you do to help in your community?
Greg Donovan is the Senior Program Officer for ServeNebraska – the Nebraska Volunteer Service Commission.