Notre Dame High School began its anti-bully commitment more than 15 years ago. The campaign originated in the ERASE Club (End Radical Actions Separating Everyone) and has branched out to numerous schools and after school programs.
“ERASE students brainstormed ways to solve problems they recognized,” says ND Community Service Director Judy Salcewicz. “Activities began with bringing awareness to our school community.”
Some of the earliest programs included Kindness Day, where individuals were recognized for small acts of kindness with posters and intercom announcements reinforcing the message. From these beginnings an anti-bully service program was born.
Notre Dame ERASE Club members, Peer Leaders, and Service Honors students then worked together to develop activities to create a community outreach program. Over the years students have taken interactive programs to entire grammar schools.
The hands-on activities are age-appropriate and begin with warm, fuzzy coloring books for kindergarten students, focusing on the importance of kindness, to skits for eighth graders based on their own words submitted in student-developed surveys. Second graders have responded to an activity where they wear symbolic band aids as a reminder that words hurt just as much as cuts.
Each activity has been revised and improved as the program has been presented throughout the community. An anti-violence grant enabled them to develop even more activities that they shared with student leaders from area high schools. So strong was the commitment to this message that Notre Dame students joined with Special Olympics to create and facilitate respect pep rallies for the entire student body.
As part of the service program at Notre Dame freshman, sophomore, and junior students participate in a community service day every year. The anti-bully program has visited numerous schools in the area including schools in Hamilton, Trenton, Lawrence, Ewing, and Yardley, bringing anti-bully activities into each classroom for every grade.
“The Notre Dame Community Service Program developed Respect Fairs for the Lawrence after school program that were so successful that Notre Dame students continued a year-long volunteer commitment with Lawrence students, developing many more meaningful activities for the children they mentored,” adds Salcewicz.
Participating students make banners and other activities to reinforce the anti-bully messages. The success of this program has led students to create and present Respect Fairs, focusing on understanding differently abled students. At these fairs aimed at middle school students, participants are given activities that simulate impairments such as visual, hearing, and learning.
After students have the opportunity to walk in the shoes of another, they sign respect pledge banners. There are six service trips scheduled for the 2015-’16 school year. Interested schools may sign up for a visit from ND students with one of these programs. Contact: phone, 609-882-7900, ext. 153; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notre Dame High School, 601 Lawrence Road, Lawrenceville. 609-882-7900. www.ndnj.org. See ad, page 20.