Tag Archives: anti-bullying

Why YES! Matters – A Video Series

6 Dec

Many of us have seen the It Gets Better videos that have inspired and given hope to countless people, young and old, that things get better and they do not need to take drastic measures to deal with the trauma of bullying and harassment.  I loved watching many of these videos, and quietly wished that I had seen some of these when I was in high school.  Though hope for a brighter future is an important factor in making life-altering decisions, it simply isn’t enough.  I had a young leader in 9th grade say to me, “I don’t know if I can wait three more years for it to get better.”  That hit a nerve in me.

I thought again about my experience in high school getting teased, pushed, and avoided consistently.  Then I heard a bunch of the young leaders around me talk about all the things they’re doing in their school as part of their GSA’s, Diversity Clubs, ANYTOWN clubs, etc. and it was clear to them that they weren’t telling any one to wait.  They were taking the initiative to make it better.  They were organizing after-school meetings with school faculty to educate them on LGBT terminology, they were leading dialogues on what bullying looks like in their school at their advisories, they were creating poster campaigns to educate people about the cycle of oppression, they were going up to people sitting by themselves at lunch, they were asking their school cafeteria to have a “diversity lunch,” and they were being true role models by celebrating the unique qualities that make them just them.

They were doing all this because they wanted that “hope” to come earlier, to come now.  And, these are the youth who envisioned, planned, and launched The YES! Campaign in October.  Why do they believe in the POWER of YES!?  Watch the Videos to find out and share your comments and feelings in the comments below!

(Muneer Panjwani)



Janette’s Day at YES!: I am part of the group called “youth” and change will start happening if I take action and help my fellow peers.

28 Nov

My Day at the YES! Conference

By Janette Cruz

When you hear the word Conference you usually think of men or women in business attire, and long, boring, and useless diagrams. However, on October 23,2011 I was a YES! leader at the YES! Conference and the word boring was far from it. I got there around 7ish and it ended around 5 but those hours flew by so fast. As soon as the first school arrived– music, like “Firework” by Katy Perry started playing. My friend Erin and I were in charge of playing games (ice breakers) with the different schools and it was a lot of fun interacting with people our age from all over CT, Mass, and RI.

It was up beat, filled with energy and just fun. I loved the poet Jamele Adams, he gave me inspiration and energy. I n fact, he inspired me to make my speech for Names Can Really Hurt Us (an anti-bullying program at my school) into a poem about discrimination. The workshops during the conference were very informative and let everyone participate (through sharing of thoughts, feelings, memories, etc.). I was not assigned to a workshop but I walked around and listened to a few and it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves.

I attended a workshop called “That’s Soooo Gay!” about how homophobic language, attitudes, and feelings create an unsafe school culture and how homophobia hurts not just people who are LGBTQ, but everyone. The woman who was running this workshop got sick and had to leave, leaving my friend Matt and I in charge. We passed out some papers that she left and continued the discussion about positive and negative stereotypes of people in the queer community.

It was interesting to hear what others (not only ppl who were LGTBQ but allies also) thought about being LGBTQ in their school. They talked about how they felt and why they felt that way. For example, a male said: “I’m gay and proud of it but that doesn’t mean I’m going to want to have sex with every guy I see,” properly correcting a prejudice people have.  I loved hearing what allies thought because they are usually forgotten when you think about LGBTQ/queer community. When an ally male said, “I support my friends who are gay or lesbian, etc. but since I hang with them, people often think I’m gay too, even though I’m not.”

We also talked about how being LGBTQ is not a choice but a discovery/acceptance within yourself that you were born that way.  In addition to this we also talked about how to be an ally. I enjoyed the discussion but wished it wasn’t so much like a lecture in a way, since our presenter got sick. Matt and I weren’t so sure how well we did at talking about/ leading a workshop until one of the guys who participated in the workshop told us that he really learned a lot from the workshop and enjoyed it. It was a really cool feeling, knowing that the message really got through.

In the afternoon I saw a group of improv students perform. They showed the perspective of each person in a bullying situation–bully, victim, bystander, and ally. In the afternoon I saw a movie called “Bullied” of a guy who was bullied in school so much  that he was beaten, threatened and almost killed because of his sexual orientation. He was the first to sue his school for not taking action and helping him with this serious situation.

I also really enjoyed the part of the conference where all the youth had to come up with an idea of how to take all that they learned that day and bring it back to their school. They wrote it on a note card and had to walk around exchanging note cards with everyone until the sound of the whistle blew (kinda like musical chairs haha). Then we were told to rate/add suggestions to the idea, so everyone got to see each others idea and see if it would work.

Overall it was a wonderful time. I was interviewed during the conference on why I was helping and the answer is because I am part of the group called “youth” and change will start happening if I take action and help my fellow peers. Youth should have a say in what is right and what is wrong. I learned new things, met new ppl and had fun while doing all of this. This conference makes me want to continue to find new ways to stop discrimination, prejudice, bullying, etc. in my school.

The YES! conference was only the beginning of the actions that youth are doing/going to do to stop bullying.

We, the youth have power and it’s time to use it to help the current generation and the next.


Impromptu Dance Party!

ps: we had the best dance parties during break. haha c:

Janette is a student at Wethersfield High School.  She is a recent alum of NCCJ’s ANYTOWN program and has been YES! Leader all year long. We are continually impressed with her ability to rise to the occasion as she did at the conference with Matt Wilson when their facilitator got sick.  That was pretty rocking to see. 🙂

Rachael’s Advice: When YOU(th) reach out, people reach back!

23 Nov

Rachael Constantine

Just Reach Out To Somoene!

By Rachael Constantine

The most beautiful day of my life happened this past Thursday when my Intro to Early Childhood Education class got to go to an elementary school in Taftville, Connecticut. Being at the school started out dull. We sat around just observing the five through eleven year-old play on the playground. Then after about twenty minutes of being there, the providers of the child care center began a game of capture the flag, and us college kids were allowed to play too!

Our professor told us to pick a buddy so I looked to a group of kids and said, “Who wants to be my buddy?” And one girl bolted forward and reached for my hand. This girl was so beautiful and was so quiet! I was trying to get her pumped by telling her we’re gonna win and she didn’t smile or make eye contact or anything. She would not talk to me at all and so then I asked, “Are you okay?” She nodded. Then I asked, “You’re just shy, huh?” And she nodded more aggressively than before so I put my hand on her back and said, “Its okay. I was shy when I was younger too.” And then she finally smiled, but something gave me the vibe that this child still wasn’t as excited as I wished for her to be.


When they said go she didn’t even flinch where as other kids started sprinting. “C’mon! We gotta play! We gotta score a point!” She said she is “never able to get the flag,” that its “always the boys who score” and that “girls can’t play this kind game.” Righ there I realized that this girl, who was just shy of ten, was already getting the message that boys rule and girls drool. So, I got the mission in my mind to make this girl score a point for our team. My whole life vanished in my mind and I was completely set on making this girl see that girls are just as capable as boys to do anything they want.

My professor came up to us and said, “Get in there!” And I told her I had a strategy. My professor left and I looked at my buddy and said, “All right, here is the deal, we’re gonna get the flag, just start walking.” When we reached the line in the middle that separates the teams she stopped. I said, “Relax. Keep walking like you own the place. Just act all chill like you’re on this team.” So we crossed the line and walked really slowly over to the flag pretending to be disinterested in the game. We got to the hoola hoop where the flag was and I could see she was getting nervous that someone would find out we’re from the other team and put us in the jail. I got on my knees and looked her in the eyes and grabbed her shoulders and said, “Ya ready? This is all you. You’re gonna score, okay?” And she smiled at me like, “Wow, of course I would pick the crazy girl,” and nodded.

Like a flash of lightning I pulled a one eighty on my knees and I grabbed the flag when the guards were distracted and handed it to my buddy and screamed, “RUN!” She started running and I jumped up and I started trailing her so no one could tag her. “Run, Forest, run!” I was yelling, and then she crossed the line back to our side. POINT SCORED.

After she crossed the line she stopped and stared at the flag in her hands in awe. She couldn’t believe she just scored a point and apparently neither could any of the boys who stood there with their jaws dropped. Finally I made a huge scene and began pointing her out, yelling that she scored. All the other kids started to run over to give her high fives, hugs, and pats on the back. They told her great job, you did it, etc. And then this incredibly cute boy who looked to be her age walked over to her and said, “Hey! That was pretty cool.” She said thanks and as he walked away she blushed.

Then me and her decided to guard our flag so we could stand around and talk. The words began pouring out of her mouth. She told me thanks for helping her and that it was so exciting. More she talked the more happy facial expressions she had. It was so heart warming because I know I made this girls day. She became the cool kid at recess and I made a new little friend.

The point of why this was the most beautiful day of my life was because this was the girl playing by herself on the playground, this was the girl who believed she wasn’t as good as boys, this was the girl who was as silent as could be who stood with a pout, and I changed her life. When we left everyone was trying to play with her, she knew she could do anything that the other boys could do, and she was now talking loudly, animated and stood proud with a grin. It was beautiful because I know I taught her that girls are just as awesome as boys and also because it proved to me how reaching out to someone can really make a huge difference in their life.


Dear YOUth,
My goal for you is to look for that kid who seems lonely, who is always quiet, who you think just doesn’t smile enough, and reach out to them. YOUth reaching out can make a huge difference. You could find out that the person you always heard was “weird,” is really your future, life long, best friend, and they were just waiting for someone like you to come along and complete them. And they will complete you in return. Small acts of kindness go a long way. If you’re looking for good karma, a new friend, to save that person who is on the edge, if you’re looking to just be there for someone, reach out. YOUth have a voice. YOUth are more powerful than they want us to know. YOUth should share your awesome personality, your perspectives, your thoughts, yourself, with as many people as you possibly can. When YOUth reach out, people reach back. She reached for me, and I reached for her. YOU(th) CAN DO IT.


Rachael Constantine


My name is Rachael Angelina Constantine. I grew up in Wethersfield, CT, but just recently moved to Uncasville, CT. I’m a freshman at Three Rivers Community College with a major in Early Childhood Education. I am eighteen years young. I live with my Papa Bear and my puppy. Her name is Buddha, she is the love of my life. I like to write, read, and take long car rides with people who like to sing as loud and horribly as I do. My political view is peace, my religious view is love. I wake up. Do what I need to do. Do what I want to do. Say what I’m thankful for. And then rest my head. Oh! And I can say my ABC’s backwards.

PS-Rachael is also an alum of ANYTOWN. In her role as a counselor, she kicks as much ass as possible ensuring that no one is left out. We like her. A lot.

Emma’s Words: It has ALWAYS been the time to end bullying.

16 Nov

Emma Murray!

The YES! Conference

by Emma Murray

The YES! Campaign on October 23, 2011 was a huge success. After schools arrived and registered, I was in charge to help rally students together to take a picture. The actual conference hadn’t even begun yet, but everyone appeared enthusiastic and excited for what was in store in the hours to come. I was pleased with this positive omen. During the first activity I was in with about twenty other students, we talked about what makes human beings feel included and excluded. In a nutshell, here’s what we decided for what makes us feel included: feeling part of a conversation, being paid attention to, feeling like you can be yourself, and feeling genuinely happy.

For excluded, however, the list appeared to be longer. We also all noted how much quicker answers were being spout out, and that it seemed much easier to come up with negative things rather than positive. The following was on the excluded list: fidgeting with clothes, pretending to text, checking the time over and over, not being listened to, feeling sad and not feeling like we are pivotal to the conversation. What was interesting about this discussion was that we had all just met each other, yet the environment and vibe was positive and happy, and everyone listened and respected one another. I also think it was a great moment of realization for everyone in the group; it was clear that no one is alone, that at some point or another, everyone has felt included as well as excluded.

At my afternoon workshop, “We Fit. Just Differently.”, I learned some horrifying facts about Autism. Over 85% of autistic kids are bullied (and over 95% of kids with Asperger syndrome are bullied). I also learned that autistic individuals take longer to process what is said to them; it’s not that they don’t understand, they just need a little time to process and reply. Writing is also more difficult for autistic individuals. I learned this from an activity where we had to place a piece of paper in front of a mirror and then write our name backwards, but so it appeared normal in the mirror. This was MUCH more difficult than one would think, and the point was to show us that normal writing for autistic kids is a struggle.

It is not only important, but crucial, for youth, for us, to end bullying in schools. Whenever teachers speak up about bullying and give us a “lecture,” some students tend to react with the typical brush-off “push it aside, suck it up, and move on” response. But one of my group members from my school said something that really made an impact on me.

He said that if the “cool kids” and “leaders” of groups or cliques in schools start standing up to bullying, then the rest of the pack will follow.

When teachers attempt to enforce and instill positive change, it is not nearly as effective because it’s coming from an adult whose JOB it is to say those things. Students left the YES! Campaign empowered to make a change. But what does saying YES! actually mean? It means to agree to end bullying and speak up when an inappropriate comment is said or when an individual is treated poorly and inappropriately; to become leaders in your schools and communities to make a difference; to make a positive change by positively influencing our peers.

It is time to end bullying. Wait, no, CORRECTION: it has ALWAYS been the time to end bullying. The question is, are you going to treat others the way you want to be treated? Are you going to make a change and say, “YES!”? I sure hope you do.

I’m asking these questions to you for real.  What’s your answer?


Emma Murray is also a musician. Check out her music here on YouTube. Follow her on twitter: @emmamurraysongs.

Message to the Bully – Spoken Word by Jamele Adams, performed at YES! Conference.

3 Nov

This is written and was performed by Jamele Adams at the YES! Conference 2011.  One of four pieces he performed that day, his words shook the minds and hearts of all in attendance.  We will be posting the other three of his rhymes individually within the next week.  Gotta give each their own blog so the power in his words is given the respect they deserve.  Check back soon!

Jamele Spittin' Rhymes

Message to the Bully

With your methods
You will not win
Vesuvian “Savant-Intelligentsians”
No matter how mean
You don’t expect this dream
To come back like love
To combat love; lost
In empty hugs and Shoulder shrugs
Cyber slugs and begrudged thugs
Like hands out, hearts open
Peace pipes can’t reach the same level of smoking
The way our fire breathe have lungs open
Inhale candle 
Exhale Roman
Inhale Prometheus
Exhale Jesus
Inhale bully
Exhale Willie,
Or Jimmy, Lisa, Rosa, Mike, Bartholomew
Anyone that resembles unique you


Cool is no comparison to the majesty of the individual


Momma said follow no fool
We will not give into slurs
We will not join you in saying that to her
We won’t use our words to beat him
Nor retract from your physical attacks
We won’t clown them in gym
We won’t back page their Facebook
Or sour their glitter on twitter by being bitter


Bully-use of superior strength or influence to intimidate
Bully-the act of repeated aggressive behavior to intentionally hurt
Bully-a person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people




Check our DNA
We Do Not Allow
Love to not exist-be it ever-present
Like timeless birthday gifts


Love-a strong predilection or enthusiasm
Love-actions towards others based on compassion
Love-ineffable feeling of solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship
We are won


October shouldn’t be anti-bullying month
It should be the month of self-esteem
And then have a calendar of 12 Octobers (know what I mean)


Larry King (murdered by Brandon MacAnary for asking on a date)
Eric Mohat (shot himself after someone said shoot yourself, you won’t be missed)
Jeremiah Lasater (shot himself in the head and had food thrown at him)
Megan Meier (hung herself in her closet after a comp message saying the world would be better without her)
Jaheem Herrera ( hung himself in his closet after being called gay, ugly and the Virgin after getting a report card full of A’s and B’s)
Justin Aaberg (gay bullying)
Phoebe Prince (cyber-bullying)
34 lost in 2010 due to Bullycide and cyberbullying


Forget money
Social security now means protection of your social identity
We are the saviors against these learned behaviors
Post Traumatic Bullying Disorder
Learning to live, with loveless-risks
And to those of us suffering with this


We care
We need you
We see you
You are not invisible
You are not forgotten
You are not alone
You can cry
Be angry
Be unsatisfied
Ask why

 Bullying is intimidation, harm and degradation of a human being, their character or the esteem of their spirit by another.  Breaking of one’s spirit by another’s pariah of insult and pain. The cure; love.

 Jamy publishing (c) October 2011.  harlym125@aol.com. 917-921-1456

YES! Highlighted on BOOST (Best Out Of School Time) Collaborative’s Newsletter!

1 Nov

YES! Highlighted in BOOST Newsletter November, 2011


YES! kick-off was highlighted in BOOST (Best Out Of School Time) Collaborative’s newsletter as an outstanding out-of-school program.  BOOST brings together hundreds of youth-serving organizations through their numerous programs that support these organizations to provide educational social services opportunities for young people.

Read what they wrote about YES! HERE.

(Is that Monson High School we see in the picture?!)




23 Oct

Charlie says YES!

23 Oct


23 Oct

Yes, Yes…. AND YES!

23 Oct