Helping Everyone Achieve Respect (H.E.A.R.)
In collaboration with the National Guard, Career Training Concepts and the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Empowerment Initiative has guided the development of Helping Everyone Achieve Respect, a presentation designed to address the issues that underlie acts of bullying in American high schools.
Delivered by National Guard personnel, the 50-minute presentation revolves around the Guard's core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. H.E.A.R. engages students by asking them to consider what they can do not only to minimize bullying but enhance the level of respect shown throughout their schools.
"Over the past two years, as episode after episode of bullying has made national news, we felt compelled to invest in an initiative to try to help make a difference," said Matthew Morgan, vice president of operations for Career Training Concepts. "We felt that leaning too heavily on an anti-bullying message alone would not be very effective, which is why we also focused on promoting positive character attributes. The National Guard is a perfect organization to lead this effort: They protect, they defend, they rescue. Standing up for others is what the Guard is all about."
H.E.A.R. features multiple case studies of disrespectful behavior in high school settings, giving students opportunities to identify instances of bullying and the potential consequences for those who perpetrate, suffer from and witness such behavior.
"H.E.A.R. examines not only the physical aspects of bullying," said Morgan, "but also how relationships among high school students can quickly escalate to issues such as spreading rumors, excluding peers, and dropping out."
In addition to advising students on how to react safely and responsibly when encountering bullying behavior, the presentation offers a list of questions that students can ask to facilitate communication, raise awareness and encourage meaningful action among teachers and school administrators.
"Leaders in any organization set the tone for acceptable behaviors," said Susan Swearer, founder of the Empowerment Initiative. "We want to engage youth and adults in dialogue about how to really change the culture so that bullying behaviors don't exist. The goal is to prevent bullying behaviors before they start."
Pilot sessions conducted in 11 schools throughout five states have already yielded positive feedback from participants, according to Career Training Concepts president Jimmy Shafe.
"Surveys from students show that the vast majority have found the presentation engaging and informative," Shafe said. "The feedback from educators has also been overwhelmingly positive. We are finding that there is a definite need for this presentation in high schools across the country."
Unbridled Service: Kentucky National Guard Blog