GARY | A group of students at New Tech Innovative Institute want to change the culture of violence and bullying in their community and their school, and their efforts have resulted in an award-winning video.
That video “NO MORE!” began as a project in New Tech teacher Linda Golston’s English class during the 2014 fall semester when students learned about Dr. Michael McGee’s Project Outreach and Prevention on Violence Foundation, or POP, program.
McGee, the emergency services medical director at Methodist Hospitals, started the POP Foundation in 2008 to stop adolescent violence, promote education, mentor youth and challenge them to value life. In 2012, McGee partnered with Methodist's Dr. Reuben Rutland to expand the program to include SAVE, or Students Against Violence Everywhere.
“We got a flyer about the POP foundation, and I was really intrigued by what Dr. McGee wanted to achieve,” said Khaliah Willis, 17, president of the school’s SAVE chapter. “I approached Ms. Golston who was the SAVE sponsor in October of last year.”
After she mapped out the video’s content, Willis enlisted six other students to serve as actors, then recorded the video. The script portrays the bullying and injury of a male student by two larger male students. Classmates stand up to proclaim the “no more!” message and convince the bullies and their victim to reconcile.
Student-based efforts succeed better because the message comes from peers rather than adults, Willis said.
Rujhay Gearson, 18, wrote the anti-violence pledge featured in the video that includes the promise “to use my mind and not my fists to resolve problems or issues.”
“I felt compelled to write it,” she said. “There is a downward fall in the community and in our school because of violence. We need to push students and our community to a greater future.”
On Oct. 21, McGee’s POP Foundation hosted region schools in the Indiana University Northwest gymnasium to develop SAVE chapters, rally students to make good choices and challenge them to help stop the violence.
During that event, the New Tech video took the top prize of $500 awarded by POP. Willis said the money will be used to expand the school’s SAVE chapter, initiate a peer mentoring program and support an upcoming anti-violence rally at the end of November.