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Every day, kids experience bullying – that’s why the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri joined with local schools to educate kids on how to help. Transform UR Future (TUF), equips students with tools so they can be more than just a bystander.

At Walnut Grove Elementary School, in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, 23 Transformers from McCluer High School took time out to teach 350 students about conflict resolution. 

“This is the kind of program that helps kids deal with some of the worst things that can happen to them in school and in life – being bullied,” said Bonnie Barczykowski, CEO, Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri.

TUF expands upon Girl Scouts’ Project Anti-Violence Education (PAVE) Program with a focus on bullying prevention and intervention. PAVE is a program designed to educate, empower and assist young people, K-12, in understanding and dealing with aggression and violence; to teach healthy relationship skills and help young people develop into strong and confident leaders. Program funding comes from the generosity of our community partners. It is important for Girl Scouts to raise money so programs like PAVE can be offered to schools and organizations at no cost.

Examples of PAVE topics include – bullying, cyberbullying, Internet safety, conflict resolution, peer pressure, inclusion, diversity and healthy relationships.

TUF focuses on a trio of schools within a district—a high school combined with an elementary and a middle school. The schools work together to implement PAVE and other Girl Scout anti-bullying programs.

A key TUF component is the Transformer. Transformers are high school-aged female and male students who learn the PAVE curriculum, classroom management and presentation techniques to prepare them for delivering three PAVE sessions to the elementary school in their TUF trio. As a Transformer, students will also receive three to four leadership skill-building sessions, fulfill volunteer or service hours and will be eligible for a college scholarship. Transformers act as peer mentors to the younger students, helping to transform their attitudes toward violence and bullying.

Erica Harris, a senior, and Tequilla Earvin, a junior, worked with a class full of second graders on how to work through an argument on the playground. “I’m surprised at how well they listened,” said Earvin, “They gave such good feedback.” 

Harris admitted she was nervous about her presentation, but afterward, she knew she made the right decision, “As a kid I always wanted to be a Girl Scout, but being a Transformer is just as fun. Teaching little kids the right way to do things; it made me feel great, like I made a difference.”

For those seeking more information or how to get involved, Girl Scouts will host a PAVE Rally at Soldiers Memorial in downtown St. Louis on May 8 at 5 pm.

This event focuses on the importance of bullying prevention efforts in schools, communities and homes. In previous years, the event drew as many as 500 attendees, including the St. Louis Mayor and other elected officials. This year, TUF students will take part in the planning and implementation of this community event. An additional PAVE Rally will be held in Hannibal in conjunction with TUF schools in that community.

Ninety-seven percent of teachers in PAVE report that students follow classroom rules better and 98 percent report students have better control of their tempers in class.

“We are always striving to make sure TUF students are in the same three classrooms on each visit, for consistency and to give the kids familiar faces,” said Jillian Richardson, a Girl Scout program manager. 

PAVE launched in 2000 as a pilot project in Girl Scout councils nationwide as part of a National Institute of Justice grant. Since its inception, Girl Scouts has served more than 300,000 young people through PAVE programs in eastern Missouri.

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