Have you ever thought about jumping into a ball pit to make friends? This is exactly what happened with the attendees of the Elkhart Community Pep Rally "One City. One Mission" that took place on August 15th, 2015, in Elkhart, IN.
The event gathered students, parents, and alumni from 21 different area schools, as well as local fire departments, police, and members of the National Guard. As Mayor Dick Moore opened the day, everyone could enjoy multiple activities, including face painting, games, bounce houses, food, lip syncing contests, and much more.
To spread awareness about bullying and help create a friendly community for both kids and adults, the United Against Bullying Committee from Elkhart Brass constructed a ball pit designed to bring together different people who could share their ideas or stories. Each person asked questions written on beach balls to the others sitting inside. While sharing their stories, people from different age groups or statuses found much in common, created memories, and even forged friendships! One small ball pit helped bring together students, teachers, parents, local firefighters, and police officers for inspiring conversations. It was an amazing way to connect with others during the event, as well as discuss what can be done to prevent bullying.
At the end of the day, local high school marching bands and their cheerleaders closed out the night with a pep rally celebrating Elkhart as “One City. One Mission.” After just a couple of hours together both kids and adults made new friends and became closer as a community.
For the Rally, Elkhart Brass partnered with Elkhart Community Schools (ECS), a recognized leader in bullying prevention. Their projects help forge a safe and respectful environment for students on a local level. All ECS` teachers have Olweus bullying prevention and intervention training. Over 200 high school students participate in an annual summit, led by STARS (Students Taking a Right Stand) and geared toward training teens to identify bullying behaviors and provide assistance to those being mistreated. Each ECS` high school and middle school also has a student-led club called “Move 2 Stand” that strives to empower students and prevent peer mistreatment.
The partnership, that helped bring together kids and adults for just one day, is one more step to a community without bullying.