ST. MARYS — A local youth organization is working to combat bullying and will kick off its campaign later this month.
On April 21, Grand Lake Theatrix and Kidz Drama Klub will kick off an anti-bullying campaign with a 5K run/walk, “Run, Bully! Run.” Grand Lake Theatrix Director Vickie Shurelds said the group was looking for an event that would fit several of its needs when members chose to hold the run.
“We were trying to look for an event that would help us fill our commitment for being a part of the Global Youth Service Day, and we wanted something that was going to kick off the campaign so we could talk to people about what it is that we are going to do,” Shurelds said.
She noted the kids came up with the idea for the run.
“We wanted it to be something that was meaningful,” Shurelds said. “The kids were talking about how bullies chase you all the time, and they thought it would be fun to turn the tables on them and chase them so they know what it feels like, and then we decided we would do this 5K run and call it ‘Run, Bully! Run.’”
Shurelds added the kids are spearheading the event.
“This is fully kid-generated,” she said. “We’re doing their ideas and I’m just helping them along with anything that they need an adult to do. I’m trying to let them take the lead on this because it is Global Youth Service Day — it’s all about what they want to do.”
“Run, Bully! Run” will begin at 8 a.m. for walkers and 9 a.m. for runners, with registration at 7 a.m. at the gazebo in Memorial Park, where the run will start and finish. Pre-registration for the run is $15 and $20 on the day of the run.
“They can register online at GrandLakeTheatrix.com or they can go to the Spring Street Coffee Shop to pick up a registration form,” Shurelds said.
During the 5K, participants will learn about bullying in Ohio.
“All along the route, the kids are going to put up information about bullying in Ohio that people will be able to read as they’re running around,” Shurelds said.
Shurelds said Ohio legislators recently made it a requirement for schools to have a policy against bullying.
According to the ORC, bullying, intimidation and harassment are defined as “any intentional written, verbal or physical act toward another student more than once that causes mental or physical harm and is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for the harassed student.”
“Run, Bully! Run,” she said, serves as the group’s kickoff for an anti-bullying campaign, in which the kids are hoping to perform “Weight of Words” in schools across the state.
“We would like to travel to all the schools in Ohio and present the ‘Weight of Words,’” she said. “The play was written by teens who had been bullied — it’s a musical about their experiences.”
In addition to the performance, actors in “Weight of Words” will also talk with the audience about bulllying.
“It is 40 minutes long, and after the performance, there is a 20-minute exchange with the actors and the people that they’re performing for to start a conversation about bullying in their school and get some ideas about how it can be stopped,” Shurelds said.
She said the group will begin work on “Weight of Words” in the fall.
For more information on “Weight of Words” and “Run, Bully! Run,” visit GrandLakeTheatrix.com.