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Rosa Parks Middle School

Program Helps Students Stand Up to Bullying

Andres Araujo, a student at Rosa Parks Middle School in Olney, works on a poster for the anti-bullying program "You Have the Power!"
Andres Araujo, a student at Rosa Parks Middle School in Olney, works on a poster for the anti-bullying program "You Have the Power!" (Courtesy Of Project Change)

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By Julie Rasicot
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, January 29, 2009

Seventh-grader Michael Abraha's glasses flew off as classmate Brady Welch pushed him against the door of a girls' bathroom at Rosa Parks Middle School in Olney.

"Too hard," Michael said as he rubbed his shoulder.

Brady quickly apologized. The students were acting out a scene for a video being produced by high school and middle school students in an anti-bullying program.

The program, "You Have the Power!," is sponsored by the nonprofit Project Change in Olney, a teen-adult partnership founded in 1998 by four Sherwood High School students to provide safe social activities in the area.

In 2005, Project Change launched "You Have the Power!," a bullying-prevention peer education program for students. The organization, funded by grants, is a community partner of the federal government's "Stop Bullying Now!" campaign.

Through the program in Montgomery County, a group of Sherwood students spends 12 weeks mentoring middle and elementary school students on ways to spread anti-bullying messages through activities and projects.

"You Have the Power!" has received national attention, including in a recent story in Time for Kids, a Time magazine publication for students, and it was featured on a PBS program in 2005.

Robyn Holstein-Glass, Project Change's executive director, said her group wants to bring the anti-bullying program to all county schools. A tool kit including program guidelines is in the works, and there are plans to create training hubs to serve the county's 26 public high schools. Groups from the high schools would be able to work with the middle and elementary schools in their clusters, she said.

"The idea is to be able to get to every cluster with this program," she said. "Children will listen to their peers, and peer mentoring is the way to go with this."

At Rosa Parks, the Sherwood students have been working since November with middle-schoolers on plans for several activities, including Spirit Week, Feb. 17-20. The students also have been taping a short video that defines bullying and presents ways to prevent it.

Michael, one of more than a dozen seventh- and eighth-graders chosen by school counselors to participate in the program, said he was happy to play the part of a bullying target in the video, because it would help other students.

"I don't mind, because people around the world and in America, they're witnessing this, and it's happening to them, too, and they need to know how to stop it," he said one afternoon last week during the videotaping at an after-school meeting.


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