News

Schenectady Students Not Waiting to Unmake a Bully!

Posted on: Thursday, September 7, 2017

What started out as a small investment for the Foundation two years ago has blossomed into a profoundly moving and important program imbedded in the Schenectady School District called DON’T WAIT to UnMake a Bully.  “UnMake” engages students in telling their stories of bullying, adversity, personal growth or success and civic responsibility. Students bring their stories to life by producing public service announcements (PSAs) that are used to reset the environment of the classroom and school.

Students conceive, write, produce, direct and act in PSAs, depicting their view of what bullying looks and feels like, but more importantly, how it can be resolved. The results?  Teachers report transformation of students and classroom behavior, reducing the impact of bullying and other harmful behaviors. 

“The project was a truly wonderful experience for my high school students,” says Andrew Yauchler of the Steinmetz Career and Learning Academy. “They loved taking part in a movie shoot and having the opportunity to mentor younger students. They really had the chance to build positive relationships!”

The students also receive technology and career experience, learning important life skills throughout the process. Students who have participated in the program become teachers to the students entering the program. Middle school students then become mentors to elementary school students. And older students assist younger filmmakers in completing their projects, helping bridge school communities.

“It’s through the support of Schenectady Foundation and its partnership with The DON’T WAIT Project® that we can widen our reach and involve the entire district in the stand against bullying,” says DON’T WAIT Project Founder Lisa Bradshaw.

The difference between Unmake and other programs is that the students own it – from developing the story and branding the message, to working behind the scenes, acting in the PSAs and viewing it with their peers and families. The result is a series of character education PSAs made available across multiple social media and Internet platforms. The program also provides character education assemblies and teacher resources allowing the PSAs to seamlessly become teaching tools year-round.

“We may guide the students through the process, but each time we do this program in schools throughout the country—with more than 6,000 students so far—each PSA and each moment is unique,” says DON’T WAIT to UnMake a Bully Program Instructor Mike Feurstein. “The students lead the creative decisions, making for an experience tailored to their sensibilities and interests.”

The Foundation has renewed its commitment to UnMake for the 2017-18 school year, enabling students from elementary through high school grades to help develop and foster a stronger climate of safety, respect and personal responsibility. Both students and faculty will learn new skills and gain the confidence needed to deal with causes and effects of bullying. Participating students feel empowered to become the change they wish to see in their school and in their community.

To learn more or watch a clip visit: http://www.dontwaitproject.org/schenectady-2016-17.html

Or check out some testimonials and on-set action here: https://youtu.be/voTfGXr9QPM

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