Every day, kids see bullying – that’s why the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri joined with local schools to educate kids on how to help stop bullying behavior. Transform UR Future (TUF) equips students with tools so they can be more than just a bystander.
TUF expands upon Girl Scouts’ Project Anti-Violence Program (PAVE) with a focus on bullying prevention and intervention. PAVE is a no-cost 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.
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 that feed into that high 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.
At Buder Elementary School in the Ritenour School District, Transformers from Ritenour High School visited for their first PAVE experiences, explaining the bullying curriculum to the K-5 students. The Transformers facilitated two PAVE sessions in each classroom.
In Mrs. Cimicata’s fourth grade class, Sarah Goers talked to the students about how teasing may become bullying. She handed out blank index cards and instructed students to write about at time when they were teased in the past. Students could then share their teasing experiences if they were comfortable doing so.
Across the hall, in Mrs. Carman’s third grade class, Sara Mason and Bruce Smith led a group activity with the children. The two Transformers asked them to draw hearts on blank sheets of paper. Then they asked the students to list things bullies say or do to hurt their feelings on the outside of the heart and then to fill the inside with tips to help someone who is being bullied.
During a break between sessions, Jalisa West, Xiomara Mendoza-Colon, Naliyah Whitfield and
Aaliyah Ward practiced their pitches and role-playing examples.
“I signed up because I thought it would change the way kids feel and think about bullying,” West said. “I tried to be funny in the classrooms. I couldn’t use big words with them or they would get bored.”
“I wanted to do something to make a difference,” Ward said. “I think it can change all of us and make us come together.”
Allysia Howerton, another Ritenour High student, returned with a glowing report from the fourth grade. “They asked me for my autograph and one of them made me a bracelet!” she gushed, holding up one arm.
This year, Girl Scouts will host a PAVE Rally in downtown St. Louis. This event focuses on the importance of bullying prevention efforts in schools, communities and homes. In previous years, the event drew nearly 5,000 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.
Other parts of PAVE include Be a Friend First (BFF), an eight-week program where smaller groups of girls in grades four through eight focus on bullying behavior and relational aggression between girls. BFF shows girls how to build and maintain healthy friendships during the sometimes difficult middle school years.
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 Kelsey Horne, a Girl Scout program manager for outreach.
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.