When Cameron Woodbury, 14, of West Homestead, witnessed bullying, she didn't do anything about it.
Her classmate at Propel Homestead, Asiyah Ridgely-Knight, of McKeesport, was no different.
But not anymore.
As members of the school's bully prevention team -- called Stop, Walk, and Talk, or SWAT -- the girls, upon observing bullying, will tell the person doing the bullying to stop; they will walk away after saying stop or remain to see whether the request has been effective; and they will talk to an adult if the problem persists.
"I was a bystander and let it happen. But now, as part of SWAT, I feel it's my duty to say something," Asiyah said.
The same process is encouraged for those who are being bullied.
"Students are more likely to step forward when they know their peers support them," principal Robert Bischoff said.
The yearlong SWAT efforts have paid off for the 400-student charter school in Homestead.
A 15-minute video that seven SWAT members wrote and starred in was awarded first place in the inaugural anti-bullying education competition conducted by the nonprofit Marcus L. Ruscitto Charitable Foundation in alliance with the Pittsburgh Foundation and educational partners including the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association.
As the grand prize winner, Propel Homestead will receive a $27,000 grant to cover the cost of a daylong Bully Proofing Your School program, presented by anti-bullying educator, Adolph Brown III.
Propel's entry was selected from roughly 50 local submissions.
Other winners were schools in Moon Area, Blackhawk, Belle Vernon Area and Penn-Trafford school districts.
The winners will be formally introduced and their videos screened July 30 at a dinner during the Ruscitto Foundation's Seventh Annual Golf Invitational at St. Clair Country Club in Upper St. Clair.
In Propel Homestead's video, SWAT members and other students from grades K-8 present national statistics on bullying, including that one of four students is bullied and one of five students admits to being a bully. They also discuss the types of bullying -- verbal, social, physical and cyber -- and the SWAT method for combating it.
"Their approach was an interesting one as they were referencing facts and making correlations to how it affected them," said Jonathan H. Rosenson, Ruscitto Foundation board member. "We felt it was authentic and actionable and could be used to help with the education of their peers."
Guidance counselors Marlynn Love and Melissa Cerrone came up with the idea for an anti-bullying program. They chose seven leaders in grades seven and eight to help select a strategy, which resulted in implementation of the national SWAT method.
In addition to creating and recording a theme song and taping skits for classroom discussion, team members introduced the SWAT technique to elementary school students.
"If we teach them while they're young, we can reduce [bullying] as they get older," Ms. Cerrone said.
Mrs. Love said she has noticed a decline in bullying schoolwide."Students are more willing to step up and tell an adult they trust," she said.
Mr. Rosenson said the next competition will be related to bullying prevention but in another format.
Here are the winners in other categories in the competition and the cash prizes they received to support bullying prevention programs: elementary school -- Hyde Elementary School, Moon Area School District, $2,000; middle school -- Highland Middle School, Blackhawk School District, $2,000; high school -- Belle Vernon Area High School, Belle Vernon Area School District, $2,000; creativity award: Penn Middle School, Penn-Trafford School District; $500; creativity award: McCormick Elementary School, Moon Area School District, $500.
For more information on the bullying videos and the golf tournament: www.marcusruscittofoundation.org.neigh_east - neigh_south
Margie Smykla, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org. First Published June 14, 2012 5:15 AM