Chicago White Sox mascot delivers anti-bullying message to Bret Harte students

Bret Harte Elementary School third-grader Dakotah Murray hugs Chicago White Sox mascot Southpaw after learning his anti-bullying message as part of the school’s bullying prevention program. -Photo courtesy of Bret Harte Elementary School

By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ

The Chicago White Sox’s favorite furry friend and mascot Southpaw visited students at Bret Harte Elementary School, 1556 E. 56th St., on Wednesday accompanied by Mascot Coordinator Kyle Matze to deliver a special anti-bullying message as part of the school’s participation in Shred Hate, a bullying prevention program created by ESPN, supported by Major League Baseball and X Games.

“Our students from Pre-K through third-grade got to listen to Southpaw’s unique story about bullying and how his friends at the Chicago White Sox came to his aid,” said Interim Principal Charles Bright. “Throughout the semester, we have been learning about respecting each other, being a good friend, and conflict resolution. Southpaw’s visit to the school reinforced our daily lessons. It’s important to teach students how to solve these situations at a young age.”

During the activity Matze told students the story of Southpaw, and how he used to be bullied for his big nose and his furry green and yellow appearance. The talk was centered on teaching the students to be nice to others and have compassion, to make friends and have respect. In Southpaw’s story, the lively mascot had his friends come help him and he got better – now making others smile everyday during White Sox games.

As part of the program, No Bully, a nonprofit group that partners with local school districts and participating schools offered specialized training to staff and students on how to implement the No Bully System to activate student kindness and eradicate the different forms of bullying and harassment. According to the ESPN No Bully statement, ESPN and X Games launched the Shred Hate program in January 2017 at the X Games Aspen, Colorado. In August 2017, Major League Baseball joined the cause to launch the Shred Hate in Chicago, home of the Cubs and White Sox.

Last year, ESPN and Major League Baseball provided 18 Chicago Schools with funding to be trained by No Bully. Each school accepted into the program received the full series of No Bully leadership coaching, teacher trainings, and parent workshops on how to implement the No Bully System to prevent and stop bullying; as well as a fully funded one-year No Bully partnership ($15,000 value) that began in the fall and concludes June 2018.

In Bret Harte, the teachers and staff created the school’s first-ever No Bullying Solution team as part of the No Bully program. The team was tasked with training staff and students about conflict resolution and were encouraged to try it in real-life situations.

Assistant Principal Meghan Fido, who is on the No Bullying Solution team said she hopes to expand their training to the parents by offering parent anti-bullying workshops in the future.

“The program helps us learn how to identify bullying and conflict at an early stage, fortunately in Bret Harte we mainly have had the occasional conflicts between students but no bullying,” said Fido. “Now we know how to get students to talk about their concerns and finding ways to solve them peacefully.”

As part of the program students at the school were also invited to participate in Shred Hate Day with the White Sox on April 30 and come see a baseball game for free. However, the students already had other plans for the day and were unable to attend.

According to Shred Hate’s statement, the program has helped eradicate almost 90 percent of bullying situations in their partnering schools since it began in 2017 and has helped more than 25,000 students across 42 schools in Chicago, Colorado, Minneapolis and Washington D.C. to date.

For more information on the program please email office@nobully.org or visit https://www.nobully.org/.

hpherald@hpherald.com