Anti-bullying curriculum offered free to schools, youth and families - MetroFamily Magazine
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Anti-bullying curriculum offered free to schools, youth and families

by Erin Page

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

More than 160,000 kids skip school every day across the United States due to bullying, according to StopBullying.gov. The Oklahoma Department of Health released a Youth Risk Behavior Survey in October 2022 that found students who were bullied either electronically or on school property were almost 33 percent more likely to report signs of depression and 26 percent more likely to consider suicide. The report also shared that 43 percent of high school students felt sad or hopeless, 23 percent seriously considered suicide and 10 percent attempted suicide.

Jim and Susan Stewart know firsthand the devastating impact of bullying. In 2021, their son died by suicide. The hopelessness their son felt, as well as the trauma endured by other families impacted by suicide in the community, incited them to act.

“We could not stand by and do nothing,” said Susan. “There is a mental health epidemic with our children and we knew we must intervene.”

The Stewarts now lead Heroes In Waiting, a local nonprofit providing free anti-bullying and peace-building curriculum to schools, homeschool consortiums, youth programs and other organizations that support children’s development. The 12-lesson curriculum incorporates best practices of meeting kids’ core needs of safety and belonging, enhancing social and emotional development, and removing the labels of “bully” and “victim” to expand empathy for all youth who are hurting. Through engaging videos, class activities and take-home exercises, participants learn to care for their own mental health and spot and support other kids who need help.

The program kicks off with an interactive, high-energy anti-bullying assembly led by local journalist, OKC Thunder hype guy and new dad Malcolm Tubbs, who shares his personal story of acceptance and kindness.

“I was mentored as a kid, and now I get to be the one to make a difference in these young people’s lives,” said Tubbs. “I truly believe this programming has the power to radically change their hearts and minds.”

WELL-KNOWN JOURNALISTS SCOTTIE HINES (LEFT) AND MALCOLM TUBBS SHARE THE HEROES IN WAITING ANTIBULLYING, PEACE-BUILDING MESSAGE WITH STUDENTS.

Tubbs is joined by filmmaker, journalist and former “KFOR In Your Corner” lead Scottie Hines. The duo shares the powerful message with students that anyone can be a hero — they don’t need superpowers to make a forever difference in someone’s life.

“Our kids’ mental health is in crisis,” said Hines. “I’m a proud uncle of three beautiful girls who are all very different in how they learn, how they express and how they navigate life. My wish is that they feel safe, supported and loved. We want our kids to know that they have a hero inside, and their uniqueness is actually their superpower. It’s what makes them stand out, and that’s a beautiful thing.”

The Stewarts hope the trauma-informed, evidence-based Heroes In Waiting program will serve to change the world for the better, one child at a time.

“We want to see a reduction in bullying behavior and incidents, depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies, and an increase in belonging, connection, friendship building, empathy, self-awareness and self-management,” said Jim.

Heroes In Waiting is already partnering with a number of public, private, charter and virtual schools across Oklahoma, including Mulhall-Orlando, Jones Public Schools, Oklahoma Christian School and Heritage Hall, with more coming online for the fall. If you’re interested in your child’s school or youth organization — or your family — incorporating the curriculum, visit heroesinwaiting.org for more information. 

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