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October is National Bullying Prevention month, and the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC) is recognizing the great work being done in our local communities by the many individuals who are dedicated to creating a safe, kind, and positive environment for our young people. Together, educators, health professionals, youth counselors, local business owners, and media personalities are partners in the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities, using their voices, time, and talents to take action to help making every community in Middlesex County bully-free.
The Campaign for Bully-Free Communities was started by members of the Council of Business Partners Fund at CFMC. The council is a philanthropic, action-oriented group of local business people who pool their resources to support positive youth development programs. In 2009, through a partnership with Rushford mental health professionals, they funded the development of numerous anti-bullying programs. To date the program has helped more than 10,000 educators, students, and school bus drivers recognize and prevent negative social behaviors.
Council members then expanded their efforts and launched the Campaign for Bully-Free Communities in collaboration with Rushford, the Connecticut Association of Schools, Empower Leadership Sports, The First Tee of Connecticut, iCRV Radio, and former NBA/UConn basketball star and campaign spokesperson Donny Marshall. This year, Renee DiNino, community relations director for iHeart Radio, has officially joined the campaign as chief ambassador.
DiNino will help shine a light on the people and resources empowering individuals to choose kindness, respect, and positive change through her Community Show broadcasts. She also highlighted the fifth annual Rally for Bully-Free Communities on Oct. 4 at EMPOWER Leadership Sports Center in Middletown. The Council of Business Partners funded the transportation costs for 400-plus educators and students of all abilities to attend a morning of empowering, team building activities, and inspirational student speakers. The council also provides support for community-based, Internet safety speaker programs covering the dangers and risks involved with sharing information on the Internet while teaching best practices for safety and privacy protection.
The council also teamed up with the CFMC’s At Risk Boys Fund and individual donors to present a buddy bench to every elementary school in Middlesex County. The buddy benches are made by at-risk youth residing at Rushford Academy. The Rushford students are building the benches as a way to learn a life skill and give back to their community. Buddy benches are social inclusion tools, providing a conduit for grade-school children to “buddy up” with those who may be feeling isolated during recess or other free play activity times.
CFMC is honored to work with so many people and businesses who are working together to make a difference in the lives of our youth and our community. We invite readers to join CFMC as we campaign for respect, kindness, and positive change in each and every community. Learn more by giving CFMC a call at 860-347-0025 or visiting BullyFreeMiddlesexCountyCF.org.
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