Pelham High School students make donation to anti-bullying nonprofit

Published 9:41 am Thursday, March 17, 2022

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By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

 PELHAM – The Pelham High School Peer Helpers presented a $750 donation to BridgeWays Alabama as part of their anti-bullying campaign.

BridgeWays Alabama is an organization dedicated to addressing the needs and issues that young people experience every day. BridgeWays partners with the PHS Peer Helpers to help talk to middle schoolers about the damaging effects of bullying on young individuals.

Peer Mentors are selected, in advance, by counselors and receive a day of training from BridgeWays staff. Mentors then lead up to 60 middle school students (also selected by school counselors) in group activities, games and discussions about cliques, prejudices, stereotypes and the dangers of bullying. The program’s activities are designed for students to work together in a diverse environment and to share what they’ve learned from the experience.

“It’s a super big part of the [peer mentor] program to have anti-bullying, and we know that it’s a big problem in today’s world,” said Josh Knight, a senior at PHS. “We knew we needed to make a change and try to do that any way possible.”

The funds were raised through the annual Mr. PHS, a play on the Miss PHS pageant where the boys compete in their own type of pageant. All proceeds from the Mr. PHS pageant went towards the donation.

“I think it makes us all feel great because not only do we have a good time doing it, it’s also going to a good cause so everybody who came out and supported it… they were supporting anti-bullying and everything we support as peer helpers,” Knight said.

Shelby Hardy, a PHS senior, said it can sometimes get emotional working with the middle school students, but it’s important to the peer mentors that they drive home how damaging bullying and stereotypes can be.

“We were all middle schoolers at one point, we all went to that school, so we witnessed it firsthand the bullying that does happen,” Hardy said. “We’re here to reassure these students that the bullying and the problems they think are so big right now, they’re really not as big as they seem. If you’re an adult telling a kid, ‘Don’t bully, don’t bully,’ that comes from an authoritarian point of view, so coming from fellow students I think they take it more to heart.”

Hardy said in her time as a peer mentor she has seen a lot of positive change in younger students who learn what it means to be kind to their fellow classmates.

Kelly Concsol, program manager of BridgeWays, said she was honored to receive the donation from such hardworking kids.

“I go to schools all over the Birmingham area and I always look forward to coming to Pelham High School because I know there’s a lot of heart when they do the program,” she said. “I know it means a lot to them and they realize the impact of teaching how important it is not to bully others and not to stereotype.”