by Jennifer DiStefano, Student Assistance Counselor, Cherry High School East
According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, one out of four students will experience bullying during their school age years. This is an upsetting statistic, but one student was determined to do something about it.
Student on a Mission
A student-athlete at Cherry Hill High School East, David Golkow, class of 2016, had the drive to make an impact on his building and his community. Along with his passion for sports, he was inspired by the anti-bullying work done by Eagles player, DeSean Jackson, and David had the determination to help to put an end to bullying. He knew the influence that sports had on the community so he decided to found the club Athletes Against Bullying. The mission of Athletes Against Bullying is to educate student-athletes at Cherry Hill High School East in order to prevent bullying on the school’s sports teams and for student-athletes to promote the anti-bullying message throughout the school and the community.
The club works to achieve this mission in multiple ways.Primarily, all of the members attend periodic half-day training sessions. During these sessions, various activities educate them on bullying. For example, there have been presentations with bullying experts, guest speakers such as professional athletes, Brandon Bair of the Eagles and Vince Papale, and recently, an examination of a staged bullying incident in their own school. These discussions of how bullying takes shape, how to respond to and prevent bullying, and other important subjects help to create awareness and ensure that a huge part of the school can serve as role models.
Taking the Initiative a Step Further
Additionally, the club hosts school-wide activities to promote respect and random acts of kindness. To extend the anti-bullying message further, the club sends members to nearby middle schools to speak to some of their student-athletes. Lectures to the middle-school students include discussion on the types of bullying, how to distinguish bullying from joking, and what to do when there is a bullying incident. These presentations teach them about bullying and sportsmanship, already preparing younger students to be mindful of appropriate behavior when they reach high school.
Walking through the halls at Cherry Hill High School East, you may come across students wearing T-shirts representing our club of Athletes Against Bullying. The club has a substantial amount of promotion. They hold numerous T-shirt sales and the sales are spectacular. Encouraging people to purchase and wear anti-bullying club T-shirts helps spread the word of the club and its cause. In addition, the club holds active social media accounts and roster email lists, so that we are able to spread quick information regarding the club to all members.
A Lasting Effect on the School… and Beyond
The impact of Athletes Against Bullying on the school and community has been tremendous. Since the start of the club, there have been no reported incidents of bullying on our sports teams at our school. Students are highly involved and anticipate the next club meeting or event. In order for our mission to be carried out, it is essential to maintain a large amount of support from students. The club has grown from fewer than 10 members from its creation to nearly 300 members, including student-athletes representing every team and grade at the school. Our club has even expanded to help people in the states of Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Massachusetts to start up anti-bullying clubs. Speaking on behalf of all our officers of Athletes Against Bullying, we highly suggest other schools create a similar club with the same anti-bullying message. The inspiration from one student can ultimately lead to a positive impact on a school, a community, a city, a state, and hopefully a whole nation.