TERRE HAUTE —
Since 2001, Vigo County School Corp. kindergarten students have participated in an anti-bullying, violence-prevention program sponsored by the Vigo County Medical Alliance.
On Wednesday, West Vigo Elementary children had their turn. They watched a video; made colorful handprints (hands are not for hitting); and then used their hands in positive ways exploring the Terre Haute Children’s Museum.
“Hands are not for bullying, they are only for helping,” said kindergarten student Delanee Parsons, explaining what she had learned at SAVE Day. SAVE stands for Stop America’s Violence Everywhere.
If Parsons sees another child being mean to someone, she knows she should ask an adult for help.
This year marks the last SAVE Day for VCSC children because of the school district’s cutback in field trips, said Ellen Richter, SAVE Day chairwoman.
As children made their handprints, Shefali Purohit, past president of the Vigo County Medical Alliance, reflected: “We were very sentimental about it. This will be the last time. We’ve been doing this for so many years. It’s such a good program and kids do need to be reminded about not bullying.”
Organizers needed special permission this year to finish out the program, Richter said. Typically each year, two schools have participated.
This year, about 45 students from West Vigo Elementary heard the anti-bullying messages.
The program educates children on what bullying is and how it starts. Children learn that bullying can be physical, but people also can hurt each other with words.
The Medical Alliance pays for the field trip, including bus fare and museum entrance fee. It funds the field trip through donations and fundraising.
While the SAVE Day field trip has come to an end, “if something can be resolved, we’d still love to do it,” Purohit said.
The program also has been an opportunity for children to visit the museum, and for some, it’s their first visit there.
SAVE Day has been a cooperative effort involving the museum, school district and Medical Alliance.
Among the other students participating in SAVE Day was Trentin Chambers, who also learned that “hands are not for bullying” and that he should be nice to people.
He says he would not bully someone “because it’s bad.”
Kindergarten student Cade Miller said the program taught him “to be nice” and “to say you’re sorry when you make someone feel bad.”
Rachel Pavelka, West Vigo Elementary kindergarten teacher, said of SAVE Day, “It is a great experience for them to come and learn more about not bullying.”
It also provides pupils an opportunity to explore the children’s museum and learn through hands-on, positive activities.
Kindergarten teacher Alison Lane said the children already are learning about bullying in school. “I think it helps when other people in the community are teaching the same things. … It reinforces what we are saying.”
The school district has cut back on elementary field trips to reduce transportation costs and in response to the federal Affordable Care Act, which will require the district to limit hours of bus drivers and other part-time employees unless changes are made to the law or IRS regulations.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.