Village President of South Orange Alex Torpey spoke on behalf of local anti-bullying group Be A Friend, Don’t Offend at the Maplewood Middle School’s afterschool program on Wednesday Feb. 20 at 3:30 p.m.
As part of an anti-bullying awareness campaign during Acceptance Week, Be A Friend, Don’t Offend partnered with Mr. Torpey to educate students about bullying prevention through valuable friendships at the Maplewood Hub. Students, teachers and administrators were able to hear Mr. Torpey’s experiences in overcoming his adversities as mayor, the challenges the South Orange/Maplewood community faced, and the influence his family and friends have had on his success. Coinciding with the local group’s mission statement, Mr. Torpey stated that reaching out and supporting a person in need can have a lasting impact on their lives.
“The impact you can have as one person on somebody else, I don’t think is something that is understood,” said Mr. Torpey during his speech. “That impact you have by being there is limitless.”
Mr. Torpey also participated in group activities with the students including hand printing and signing on the “Hand-in-Hand Against Bullying” banner. In addition, students were able to share their differences and interests on the “If You Really Knew Me….” banner where both art projects will be hung on the Maplewood Middle School’s cafeteria wall.
“Being a friend extends far beyond helping someone once,” said event coordinator Melissa Murray. “In the words of Mr. Torpey, it really means making a difference every day in their lives.”
Be A Friend, Don’t Offend is a local advocating team founded by public relations students at Seton Hall University. The group is among other nationally-recognized groups creating anti-bullying campaigns for the Public Relations Student Society of America’s (PRSSA) Bateman Competition. Be A friend, Don’t Offend is working with the Maplewood Hub, local leaders and organizations from the Maplewood and South Orange communities. Young teens at the Hub will be encouraged to combat bullying with a positive approach to valuable friendships.
FAMILYConnections is a non-profit counseling and family services agency with more than 35 specialized programs for all ages from infants to seniors – including The Hub at Maplewood Middle School, one of four youth based services programs helping teens deal with the challenges of growing up. These programs offer mental health counseling, life skills training, prevention programming, academic and employment support afterschool enrichment and recreation in collaboration with school staff and community partners. For more information please visit www.familyconnectionsnj.org.
For more information visit the Facebook page Be A Friend, Don’t Offend and twitter @dontoffend.