There is zero tolerance for bullying at Albert Leonard Middle School in New Rochelle, NY.
Harassment is an issue that Principal John Barnes takes extremely seriously while working with the students in his middle school.
"Every day we try to work to eradicate bullying," said Barnes. "Every day we try to turn a culture of students into up-standers. Looking out for one another, taking care of each other. To have all the focus on this school's community, to really engage and empower the kids that they can do this, we can eradicate bullying and we can change the world and make it better for the generations to come."
In collaboration with STOMP Out Bullying, the Jets kick off a new initiative this season that the Green & White are excited to be a part of: tackling issues that directly affect the youth of today.
With over 1,000 toolkits donated, these resources consisting of Social Emotional Learning methods will aid educators in creating meaningful dialogue with students that can help change the culture of victimization.
"Our anti-bully campaign really has kind of jumped to the forefront," said Jesse Linder, director of community relations for the Jets. "While we're also heavily involved with fighting childhood obesity, supporting the Alliance for Lupus Research, and promoting youth football. This is a new initiative that we're putting a lot of weight behind it and we want to bring it up to the level of the others."
"I think it's really important that we give kids the tools to advocate for themselves," added Principal Barnes. "At the school, we focus on very much on being an Albert Leonard Middle School STAR. S is for safe, T for tolerant, A for accountable, and R for respectful. We are really trying to make sure this is instilled in all aspects of the school day."
As the Jets are on the front lines tackling this new initiative, the team appointed WR Eric Decker and his wife Jessie James Decker to share their personal stories of witnessing and experiencing bullying first-hand to the seventh- and eighth-graders of Albert Leonard.
This is a serious issue that hits to close to home for both Eric and Jessie.
While attending Rocori High School in Cold Spring, Minnesota, Eric witnessed two of his friends shot and killed as a direct result of bullying. Jessie was a victim of bullying. After moving 12 times as a military kid growing up and attending 17 different schools, making new friends and trying to fit in wasn't always the easiest thing to do.
"Being a new father, you start to really see and understand what your kids can go through," said Decker, "the experiences they're going to have and how important it is to create an environment for them that is safe and comfortable and where they're capable of thriving. With my experience and seeing the worst-case scenario of losing classmates, I never want to see that happen to anyone."
The Jets, Eric Decker, Jessie James Decker and STOMP Out Bullying honor New Rochelle Middle School and announce new anti-bullying school recognition program. Bruce Cotler/STOMP Out Bullying