This February, Youth Leader and Facilitator Cyndi Guerrero facilitated a dynamic workshop, at the San Mateo County Youth Conference, entitled “In Our Own Words (Building Peace and Preventing Bullying).” Cyndi is a Youth Leader of ASK Academy. As a youth leader she is trained in peer mediation, leadership skills and facilitation.
Our group was chosen to present because the overall goal of the "In Our Own Words" youth led project is decreasing bullying in the partner schools and promoting a healthy and safe school environment and community. The review panel was extremely impressed with the students’ work and invited them to talk more about the program. Through this program, ASK Academy is advancing the leadership capacity of local students, developing conflict resolution skills, anti-bullying strategies, and ongoing support. The youth are keeping the community safe through group or individual peer to peer assistance.
This annual event, held at the College of San Mateo (CSM), is sponsored by Star Vista, County of San mateo, and the San Mateo County Youth Commission. Cyndi introduced the youth led project “In Our Own Words” and its purpose, creating “Bully Free Zones” in schools and communities. She also mentioned that the Stop Bullying System founder, Shakeel Ali, President of the Governing Board of Education, Jefferson Elementary School District, was present in the room. Next Cyndi shared how she, as one of the youth leaders, collaborated in the writing of the grant proposal to State Farm for the “In Our Own Words” project. She participated through the entire process of creating the PSAs during the fall semester.
Cyndi talked about the generous support of some of the funders and partners, such as the Mills Peninsula Community Grant, Nintendo Foundation, State Farm, the African American Community Health Advisory Committee, Jefferson Union High School District and the Pacifica School District. She then showed the PSA’s and led a question and answer session. The reaction and response from the audience was…. a thunderous round of applause!
Some of the questions she asked were….
What type of bullying was going on in each PSA?
What other options did the main characters have?
What could they have done to get help?
Have any of you ever experienced any sort of bullying?
All hands went up in the room, youth and adults alike. Some of them shared their experiences with bullying. One participant said that he had been bullied for a long time but couldn’t do anything to stop it because he was out-numbered, 10 to 1. Some of the attendees asked Cyndi advice on how to go about helping to stop bullying in their schools. She advised them that they can start their own “In Our Own Words” youth led anti-bullying campaign by having ASK Academy help them form a Climate Committee.
Some of the comments were…
“Thank you! The PSA’s were informative and inspiring”
“Thank you, that was great!”
Thank you for the popcorn and the candy”
Since the theme of the conference was “Embracing who you are and celebrating how that unites us all!”, Cyndi ended by saying “we are all entitled to our own opinions but no one should be bullied for being different. Our imperfections and unique qualities should bring us together and should be embraced by all. We all need to learn how to become allies instead of bystanders.” All of the participants said The popcorn and candy that she gave the attendees were a hit! To continue the conversation and strategizing, there will be a Follow up discussion on Bully Free Radio coming soon...