PUNXSUTAWNEY — The stereotype of a bully is someone who takes your lunch money from you everyday and punches you in the arm, but that image actually makes up just a small part of bullying, as every day, more than 160,000 children nationwide stay home from school to avoid being bullied.
Not only are the effects of bullying on a child felt immediately, but they can also be lifelong, or even tragic, said Kim Rhodes, executive director of the Mentor Parent Program.
"That’s why we're inviting everyone in the area to support this cause at the first ever Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying on Saturday in Barclay Square as part of National Bullying Prevention Month," said Rhodes, adding that the rolling would be if someone brings a child in a stroller or if others who might be in a wheelchair or have a motorized device participate.
She said registration begins at 10 a.m. at Barclay Square, and the event will be a 5K run or a 1-mile fun walk/roll which begins at 11:30 a.m.
They're doing the 1-mile walk around Barclay Square and the 5K on Rails to Trails, she said.
Rhodes said participants bringing in $20 or more in donations will receive a t-shirt, and there will be vendors there supporting their anti-bullying efforts, as well as fun, food and a bake sale.
"The Mentor Parent Program is hoping that by holding this event, it can bring more awareness of bullying to families, students, school districts and agencies," she said.
"We hope to reach everyone involved with students in school," Rhodes added, saying that bullying has really gotten out of control in many different ways.
"Many times I don't think people understand to what degree bullying is (taking place)," she said.
Rhodes said bullying ranges from anything as small as lightly mocking somebody to punching and kicking.
She's hoping Saturday's event will bring awareness to the community, the school district and families regarding bullying, she said.
Tammy Williams, administrative assistant for the Mentor Parent Program, said bullying is not brand new; it has been going on forever.
"I think every child in their lifetime has been bullied; there's no child who is immune to being bullied," Williams said, adding that the bullies themselves have often been bullied, which is often why they became bullies themselves.
"This event is to build awareness not only for the kids who are being bullied, but for those who are doing the bullying," she said. "The bullies may be out there crying for help, this is for everyone to get out there and put a stop to this."
Williams said that if parents have a child who is being bullied or one who is a bully, they encourage them to attend Saturday's event to come out and get some information to stop the bullying in the community.
All proceeds from the Run, Walk, Roll Against Bullying will benefit The Mentor Parent Program, Rhodes said, adding that in addition to the food vendors, there will be a band and a deejay performing in the park.
Rhodes said the Mentor Parent Program exists to provide support and services to parents of children with disabilities through a coalition of united efforts of parent, educators, service providers and professionals, to effectively meet the needs of children with disabilities in the rural Appalachian region of Pennsylvania.
The money that is raised will help support The Mentor Parent Program's mission to continue to bring awareness to schools and communities by offering trainings, workshops, support groups and education in 13 counties and 17 school districts, she said.
Rhodes said the Mentor Parent Program utilizes its many resources and training opportunities to help families and communities better serve their needs in the educational system.
It also helps families with resources that involve any child from birth to 26, and they have multiple resources available.
For more information, call 888-447-1431.