Long before the spate of bullying-related suicides that made headlines last fall, an organization called The Bully Suicide Project was working to shed light on the issue.
Now, the program hopes to capitalize on the excitement surrounding Super Bowl XLV to make that light even brighter.
Bully Suicide Project co-founder Dr. Audrey Newsome is working with the city of Dallas and the Dallas All Sports Association to stage what Newsome described as “the first major anti-bullying rally in Dallas.”
The “Super Day of Service, Super Day of Hope” rally will be held Friday, Feb. 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at City Hall Plaza.
That is the Friday before Super Bowl XLV will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and Newsome said organizers are hoping to use the excitement surrounding the NFL championship game to draw attention — and participants — to the rally.
“We already have 28 schools and four professional athletes that have confirmed they are participating in the rally,” in addition to state Rep. Eric Johnson, Newsome said, and more are confirming their participation daily.
Newsome said the two professional athletes whose names she can release at this time are Kansas City Chiefs safety Reshard Langford and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver David Tyree.
“We really wanted to get some of the professional athletes to participate in this because most of them have really been silent on the issue of bullying so far,” Newsome said. “We want to get people out there to think about this issue, and what better way to do that than to use the excitement of the Super Bowl.”
Founded in 2009 by Newsome and Beaux Wellborn as a joint project of Campus Harmony and Youth First Texas, the Bully Suicide Project aims to combat bullying of all kinds and to offer support to those who were being bullied.
Bully Suicide Project started with the release in December 2009 of a series of public service announcements with photos by Tracy Nanthavongsa that featured people of all ages making their own statement about bullying and how it affected them. (See photos from the PSAs only at DallasVoice.com)
A month or so later, in January 2010, Bully Suicide Project released a video PSA on YouTube and organizers began working with local schools to provide education and awareness on bullying and on creating safe spaces for those targeted by bullies.
Last August, Bully Suicide Project launched its fall awareness campaign, again featuring photos by Nanthavongsa and special make-up by Melissa Whitaker.
The theme for the fall campaign was “Real Students With Real Stats,” and each model was a high school or middle school student in North Texas that has survived bullying. The photos were graphic, intended to drive home the real life effects of bullying by showing the physical signs.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.