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ACTION team at Dutch Fork Middle School partners with Columbia Fireflies to combat bullying

IRMO – The ACTION for Unity team at Dutch Fork Middle School has partnered with the Columbia Fireflies for the second year in a row as part of their anti-bullying campaign. The Fireflies are working with students in three sessions throughout April and May to brainstorm, write scripts and film videos combatting bullying. The winning video out of six groups will be played on the big screen at a Fireflies game to spread awareness about bullying and how to take a stand against it.

Dutch Fork Middle School history teacher and ACTION Adviser Lori Wenzinger organized the collaboration as a way for students to go beyond empathizing by taking action.

“Students are empowered when you give them a voice and you let them speak and take a stand,” explained Wenzinger. “When you’ve got them teamed up with a community mentor, it gives validity to it. It says what you’re saying is important and I’m listening. The Fireflies are listening, and I think it just empowers students to feel like what they’re saying is important and needed. It gives strength to their voice and their message.”

ACTION promotes awareness, healing and unity between diverse groups through community partnerships and purposeful acts of kindness. Their anti-bullying campaign is relevant to students and a way for them to make a difference among their peers. Students split into groups of ten, included special needs students and English as a second language students, each working with two Fireflies baseball players.

Eighth grade student Elise Hill’s group is writing a skit on bullying others about their athletic abilities. She said, “We hope it will help people have an insight on what really goes on in bullying, not just being pushed around in the halls but really going deeper, like appearance issues and suicidal thoughts. When you’re being bullied, just a small comment can make a person’s life much worse.”

Advocating for this important cause has been meaningful for the Fireflies as well. Shortstop Milton Ramos and first baseman Dash Winningham worked with ACTION last year and were excited to get creative with their teams this year.

Winningham said, “It’s just awesome to be with kids like this and giving back to the community and helping them take a stand on things that are happening out in today’s schools. If I can make an impact, talking to students, doing the sketches, just spending time with them, it’s really just something I take pride in.”

“I love working with kids because they’re the future,” added Ramos. “Coming here and seeing the kids, how happy they are to see me, it’s great!”

In addition to the winning video being played at a Fireflies game, the videos will be used as part of Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) at Dutch Fork Middle School, and shared with other schools in District Five and beyond.

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