By Cassie Kelly | February 13, 2013
Thirteen million children in America will be victims of bullying this year — a statistic Ohio University students are trying to change by competing in an annual program that began on Saturday.
Five OU students were selected to compete in the 2013 Bateman Case Study, an annual national competition through the Public Relations Student Society of America.
This is the first year that Scripps PRSSA is endorsing a team for the study. The initiative is to increase awareness among children, teens, parents and teachers nationwide and inform them about how to prevent and report bullying. The team began working in December and named their program Reach Out for Friendship.
Junior studying strategic communication Marissa McDaid, Theresa Ianni, Nicole Spears and sophomores Marisa Dockum, studying communication studies and Melaina Lewis, studying strategic communication,held their kick off event at the graffiti wall on the corner of Mulberry Street and Richland Avenue. Local students painted their hands as a symbol of their fight for friendship on the wall.
“Instead of taking a negative aspect on the harmful effects of bullying, we are trying to encourage younger students to replace that with friendship,” said Spears, the team leader.
The program will be implemented in Athens City Schools throughout February. The team designed the program based on research and interviews with several guidance counselors in Ohio.
One of the key parts of the program is an anti-bullying kit that will go to every school, which includes a phone list of anti-bullying hotlines and lesson plans for teachers on how to spread awareness of bullying
“Hopefully the impact will be that they look at bullying in a new light, that there is an alternative to bullying, and that’s kindness. We hope that it is something that will last in classrooms,” Spears said.
The study encourages teams to utilize social media in any way they can. Reach Out for Friendship just launched its website, www.reachoutforfriendship.com. The group also created a Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr blog.
Ianni, the director of online promotions for the team, said social media will help publicize their events and generate conversation about the campaign.
The group will host several more events throughout the month. At the end of February, the team will summarize all their events and their outcomes and submit their results to officials at the Bateman Case Study.
McDaid, the director of print promotions believes that if they win, it will not only be because of these results but because of the community.
“The Community Center and other local businesses are open to donating. Athens is very supportive,” she said.
Read the original story in The Post, here.