2014: Ambassadors for Respect Makes a Difference in Anti-Bullying
Ambassadors for Respect is a bullying prevention program that teaches children to address and confront bullying at an early age. As many as one third of all school-age children in the U.S. report being bullied. What is more, 60% of young people with a disability nationwide report being bullied regularly.
Ambassadors for Respect, a program of Merrick, Inc. and funded by the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, trains 4th grade elementary school students on how to deal with and address bullying. The curriculum is based on one developed by PeaceMaker Minnesota and modified so that both students with and without disabilities can benefit. In addition, many of the developers and presenters of the program, all of whom have a disability, have utilized the skills they developed while working on this program to secure full-time employment.
Merrick, Inc., is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, licensed by the Department of Human Services to provide: Adult Day & Memory Care (ADS), Day Training and Habilitation (DT&H),and Supported Employment (SES).
Merrick, Inc. is dedicated to empowering adults with disabilities through vocational and social opportunities.
The State of Minnesota passed The Safe and Supportive Schools Act in 2014 — a 13-page bill that replaced a 37-word anti-bullying law. This commitment from the State ensures that the Ambassadors will have support to continue.
The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities has produced a handbook for the Ambassadors for Respect Program.
Community Innovator Award
Ambassadors for Respect is an innovative anti-bullying program. Anti-bullying training sessions were held in three schools in North St. Paul and White Bear Lake school districts last year. The program is adding Mahtomedi schools this year. Teachers and paraprofessionals are involved in training sessions and interactive activities so they can reinforce the tips and tools that students learn. Curriculum from PeaceMaker Minnesota is modified so all students can benefit from this training.
So far, 330 students and 23 teachers were reached in 11 training sessions. The Ambassadors are working to obtain additional funding to expand their training sessions to school districts statewide.