Elisabeth Morrow School Students and Assemblywoman, Vainieri Huttle, Take Part in Teen Bullying Conference Friday

By: Feb. 21, 2013

With bullying such a growing "epidemic" that is impacting children at younger and younger ages, the JCC Teen Department holding a teen leadership conference for middle school students that will be dedicated to the pressing topic of bullying. At the conference, which is scheduled for Friday, March 1, 2013, 8:30am - 1pm, The Elisabeth Morrow School students who attend will have a unique opportunity to learn more about the dangers of bullying, hear personal stories from teens who have been victims of bullying, and gain a deeper understanding of the emotional scarring that such experiences cause. The goal is to make younger teens "aware" and to inspire them to believe that they can personally make a difference and bring about social change.

"Our plan is to reach out to approximately 200 middle school students in 18 local townships to attend the conference as "student delegations," explains Teen Director Sara Sideman. "They will spend the morning with a keynote speaker, who will address the dangers of bullying, the importance for standing up to bullying, and reporting it when it occurs. The students will then attend breakout sessions, where they will work closely with their peers to break down barriers and have meaningful discussions about the dangers and consequences of bullying."

The keynote speaker is Krysten Moore, the National Youth Ambassador for STOMP Out Bullying and Love Our Children USA, who also founded her own organization called SHINE (Student's Helping Instill New Esteem) which was recognized as a "Make It Your Own Top 100 New Charities" by the Case Foundation in 2006. Being verbally abused throughout her own middle school years, Krysten is determined to take a stand and spends her time visiting elementary and middle schools speaking firsthand about the negative effects of bullying.

The breakout sessions will focus will be on three important topics: cyber-bullying, bullying Intervention and the emotional affects of bullying. These sessions will incorporate lectures, discussions, and hands-on activities that will bring the serious issues of bullying "to life" so they will feel personally invested in wanting to make a difference. Finally, the students will attend workshops led by student leaders and adult facilitators, who will help them plan strategies on how to bring back what they learn at the conference to their schools.

"We are eager to send these students back to their schools excited, motivated and equipped with tangible ideas to help prevent bullying and support its victims," adds Sara Sideman. "By placing the reins in their hands, and giving them the tools and access they need to make a difference when it comes to a serious teen issue, we will empower these young students to become strong leaders in their communities. We know that this experience will have a meaningful and lasting effect on every council participant, and they, in turn, will turn around and empower the younger students. Together, they will stand up to bullying and fight for positive social change."

"The importance of this conference is to guide our youth on how to be leaders in our community," says Ryan Mion of the Bergen Family Center. "Our mission is to prepare them to take action steps that foster social change for the betterment of society and/or communities we serve."

For more information, contact Sara Sideman at 201.408.1469 or email ssideman@jccotp.org.


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