Creating a Community of UPstanders
Did you know 160,000 kids in the United States stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying? As a parent of small kids, it’s another worry I get to add to my list of things that will keep me up at night when they hit the tween years. Thankfully there are many national and local nonprofits working to change this statistic by partnering with schools and parents to combat this increasing problem.
I recently discovered one nonprofit that is making large strides in the Silicon Valley. Launched in 1999 by community leaders who wanted to create a Silicon Valley where all youth can thrive, Project Cornerstone, is part of the YMCA of Silicon Valley. Project Cornerstone partners with parents, staff, and students in over 200 schools to help all children and teens feel valued, respected and known. Project Cornerstone empowers nearly 3,800 adults to positively impact over 60,000 youth yearly.
To empower students to combat bullying and peer abuse, Project Cornerstone developed the Expect Respect Program. Expect Respect helps students from different social groups—including bullies and victims, athletes and “mathletes,” tough kids and cheerleaders, class presidents and class clowns and everyone in between—work together to find common ground and create a “new normal” for their school where all students are accepted and supported by their peers.
Quick success story, 6th grader Brandon joined his school’s Project Cornerstone Expect Respect workshop. When another student shared his own story about bullying at their school and began to cry, Brandon stepped up, put his arm around the boy’s shoulder, and whispered support. After their initial surprise, all the rest of the group joined in. One student’s leadership and willingness to be an UPstander and show positive peer influence created great change for this student, and began a change for his entire school.
There are many other programs that are integral to Project Cornerstone. The Asset Building Champions (ABC) and Los Dichos parent engagement programs, in which adults learn to create positive connections with their own children and youth in the community. The Spanish-language Los Dichos program opens new doors for parents from diverse cultures to support their children’s school success as well as the healthy development of all young people in their communities.
Specifically the ABC and Los Dichos Programs Focus On:
Creating a common language and vocabulary about student respect and behavior expectations among all members of the school community — students, parents and caregivers, teachers and staff.
Helping students develop skills to handle physical, verbal, relational and digital bullying and to STAND UP if they see someone else being bullied.
Increasing the number of caring adults on campus so that all students feel that there is at least one adult they can turn to if they have a problem.
- Contributing to a positive school climate where every student feels valued and supported to achieve and thrive.
The organization’s goal is to expand to all schools in Silicon Valley to impact over 200,000 youth annually—all learning to be UPstanders and creating a community of tolerance and acceptance where all are valued. If you’re interested in helping with expansion or in learning more about their programs, please visit www.projectcornerstone.org.