MAPLEWOOD, NJ – The Seton Hall women’s basketball team is taking on a different kind of opponent – bullying.
The Pirates will participate in an anti-bullying event on Feb. 21 at Maplewood Middle School organized by the group Be a Friend, Don’t Offend. Players will work with students from the Maplewood Hub, an afterschool homework and activities program, to share experiences with bullying and play team-building games.
Organizers say they hope the program will help teach the children to accept others’ differences and the benefits of friendship.
“This is a very important event for students and even the community as a whole because right now bullying is very prevalent,” said Katia Diaz, a Seton Hall student and an organizer of the event. “If we can provide the age group where it’s most prevalent, around middle school, with tips and advice and educational awareness about how risky and dangerous bullying is, then we have actually succeeded.”
According to Diaz, activities for the Pirates and students will include noncompetitive basketball and a game in which everyone picks names out of a hat and compliments the people they chose. Diaz said the students can also learn a lot from just listening to the team.
“These women are pretty much succeeding in their lives due to support systems that they’ve had,” she said. “Even though they’ve (been bullied), they were able to overcome that and they can actually relay that message to the students and say not to give up, but to actually reach out for help when necessary.”
April Phillips, the team’s coordinator of basketball operations, agrees that the team has a lot to offer the children.
“With the girls being involved in a team sport and knowing basically what it means to be a team and to work with one another and to accept others’ differences, I think that they’ll be good role models,” Phillips said.
Phillips said the team did not hesitate to get involved in this event and looks forward to taking part in similar events in the future.
“We enjoy getting out in the community and doing things to not only represent Seton Hall, but to help our athletes as people,” she said.
Be a Friend, Don’t Offend is an organization founded by Seton Hall public relations students for the Public Relations Student Society of America’s national college competition. For more information, visit the Facebook page “Be a Friend, Don’t Offend” and the Twitter feed @dontoffend.
The reporter is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.