In its first year of operation, Parents for PRIDE has exploded in membership, expanded to other states and broadened its mission.
Carmelina Vargo, founder and president of the organization, asked members of the Mars Area school board to allow the district to be a leader in the fight against bullying by being the first to display the group's anti-bullying sign at the stadium.
"As a community, it is our responsibility and obligation to protect all children. It takes a village to control bullying violence in our schools," she said. "No longer is it acceptable for parents to say it's just kids being kids."
The group wants the sign, which depicts a bull inside the universal "no" symbol, to be placed in a prominent spot at the stadium and its placement coordinated with the district's annual Planet Peace anti-bullying "white out," where all students wear white to an outdoor assembly in the football arena.
Several Mars Area personnel, including superintendent William Pettigrew, are members of the group.
Parents for PRIDE, originally known just as PRIDE, was formed in March 2012 by Mrs. Vargo and three other mothers who witnessed children being bullied in youth sports.
The group now has 150 members in Pennsylvania, as well as members in several other states. Its mission has expanded from youth sports to cyberbullying to a neighborhood watch idea.
PRIDE stands for Protect, Respect, Influence, Develop and Encourage -- protecting children, respecting each other, being positive influences, helping to develop the proper fundamentals and encouraging teamwork.
The group works with KidSPORTS magazine, a free publication available at sporting goods stores, to help reach those who participate in youth sports.
Parents for PRIDE also asks school districts to encourage community youth activities to perform background checks on all volunteers using school facilities and to place disclaimers on fliers for community sports groups that the group is not affiliated with the school district and may not utilize the same safety precautions as school districts.
The group is also expanding its original mission to address cyberbullying and is lobbying state officials to make cyberbullying a crime in Pennsylvania, Mrs. Vargo said.
They would eventually like to bring the anti-bullying campaign to neighborhoods, she added.
"We would like to mirror the neighborhood watch campaign in the past. What we are going to do is our neighborhood anti-bullying campaign. We want to work with county and the state to help implement that."
Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer: email@example.com.