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One Message, Multiple Schools, And A Whole Community Changed

The leadership team at Brookline, a school in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district, is getting ready to begin its next training in social and emotional learning. Through the training, it hopes to guide its students even more effectively through understanding and managing their emotions, as well as their peers. It's a key component to building empathy and positive social culture, and the latest program to be offered by Shred Hate.

Founded in 2016, the Shred Hate program provides bullying prevention resources to schools and is supported by ESPN, MLB, and the X Games. The initiative's ultimate goal is to cause a tangible reduction in bullying incidents. Because both school and sports environments can be either strong enablers for or protections against bullying, it is imperative to guide the social cultures of these spaces for the latter. And that is the goal Brookline is working toward with its latest training.

The First Step

But where does one start to enact change in an environment as complex as a classroom? Because of the entire Pittsburgh Public Schools district's success, we asked Ida Simpson, project manager at the Office of School Performance, how they were able to thrive under the Shred Hate program.

"It was actually an opportunity brought to us by the Pittsburgh Pirates," says Ida. "It fit perfectly at the time as something that can reach all levels of the district … it brings everybody to the table."
The program was initially introduced at 22 schools, most of which were either already engaged or preparing to implement the new social and emotional learning curriculum. Almost immediately, it brought positive changes and increased awareness around what bullying actually is and how it can be best addressed.

"With parents it became huge, because a lot of people were talking about bullying in the school system …. It's really helpful for the district," she says.

From the outset, all levels of the community were committed to understanding Shred Hate's mission and to putting in consistent effort in creating positive social visions. "Parents have feedback on how they feel like it is dropping down the bullying because of that community. It brings the kids in, and they are able to defuse the situations among themselves."

A Helping Hand

Additionally, Ida says, the recognition that the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Shred Hate program give to outstanding community members also bolsters the efficacy of the program. They have implemented monthly Upstander and Upstaffer awards that recognize students and staff who have gone above and beyond to prevent bullying.

"Last year when starting the Upstander of the Month, I really wanted to do something impactful for kids that are embracing this mission," says Joel Gray, community outreach manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

When talking about the Upstander program, he remembered two students who initiated their own "Kindness Compassion Week" in their school. Through Shred Hate, they are able to be acknowledged for their message and amplify it at the same time. The Pirates and the school district recognize it's just as important to celebrate the positive while preventing bullying to further encourage change.

Read more at the Patch, One Message, Multiple Schools, And A Whole Community Changed