Safe Fleet’s United Against Bullying Program was pleased to award a Grant this year to Be Strong, a non-profit with a mission to empower youth through hope and resiliency training. [They] Inspire. Interact. Ignite. Intervene. [have] Impact. Be Strong teaches life-saving social and emotional skills that will help youth make friends, manage enemies, and live a meaningful life. The organization developed a free in school program that will release in Fall 2017. They have impacted and empowered more than 3 million students via the Be Strong LIVE Tour, simulcast, and broadcast. Their goal is to reach all of the students in the US school system by 2020 – all 50 million.
I had the opportunity to interview Ashleigh E. Cromer, Executive Director, and was inspired by her energy, her creativity, and what she shared about herself and the organization. “My passion is utilizing the gifts that have been given to me . . . with the belief that the entertainment business is the largest soap box the world has to offer and communication is our most powerful tool. It offers a great opportunity and simultaneously a responsibility to the type of education and impact you provide for your viewer no matter the screen or arena.”
Be Strong’s message is “Empowering youth to be the change they want to see in our world through hope and resilience.” They focus on building skills to help students respond to challenges and bullying in a way that allows them to combat social aggression independently. Their main platform for delivering this message to youth is through dynamic, engaging and experiential Be Strong LIVE Tours in different states, for schools at no cost, at marquee locations. The youth are captivated with inspiring musicians, motivational speakers, and influencers that have personally overcome bullying encounters in their own lives. Be Strong simulcasts the event for schools that can’t attend. To be inspired, check out some of their live events available on their website: bestrong.global/events-simulcast/past-events.
The Be Strong LIVE Tour holds students’ wholehearted attention with speakers that connect with the youth, their generation, and their mindset, and with young people in leadership roles. Following the LIVE event Be Strong does an in-school free documentary tour that is student led. Cromer states, “after a Be Strong Live Event, there’s a measureable 85% environment shift in schools who participate in the LIVE event or via simulcast with a drop to 67% three months following.”
But how does a non-profit produce state-wide events with 2,500 to 5,000 students attending each one? The donors are committed, planning is creative, negotiating an art, and building relationships and connections imperative with corporate sponsorships, state-wide groups including Department of Education Superintendents, and local non-profits who provide volunteers for the events. Cromer created the “Be The Change” TV series and “Live Life Forward,” a national TV show. She uses her connections and savvy to negotiate rates, call on media and celebrities, and utilize resources in miraculous ways.
Be Strong, initially called Stand Strong USA, was conceived by Roy Moore. The organization’s name was changed to promote a message of emotional resilience and to empower all students, including those with disabilities and unable to “stand.” Moore was a successful entrepreneur for 25 years, but after experiencing the pain of bullying and suicide among family and friends, he was compelled to establish Be Strong to save and transform lives. Thank you to Roy Moore for his empathy and leadership.
Be Strong is developing the Be Strong Digital Bridge, a set of digital tools to connect people of all ages with one-touch resources such as suicide lifelines, crisis text line, and trusted friends alert, a Smartphone App, an information portal, and increased access to social resources. The app allows youth to input their zip code and connect to non-profit resources wherever they are for safety, housing, food, counseling, etc.
Be Strong has launched a campaign of state representatives, designed to empower students to empower other students. Each state nominates student leaders to be representatives who train with Be Strong in four key areas: advocacy, awareness, random acts of kindness, and resilience training. Soon anyone will be able to access the US map on Be Strong’s website and click on their state to find their state representatives, be nominated as a student state representatives, and/or connect to local resources.
Quotes from Be Strong student leaders –
My takeaways from this interview are the importance of listening to youth and applying what they say, and how messages, especially delivered by fellow students, of kindness, hope, and resilience empower youth to help them achieve their greatness. What’s not to love about an organization offering programs free for every student, parent/guardian, administrator, or teacher, regardless of socio-economic status, race, religion, or sexual orientation that is non-religious, non-political, and turns hate into love?
For more information, contact: Be Strong.
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