#cyberbullying | #cyberbully | Boo2Bullying addresses youth challenges amid pandemic in Coachella Valley


Rebecca O’Connor
 |  Inland Empire Community Foundation
Boo2Bullying, an organization working to eradicate bullying, intolerance and discrimination, has been busy during the pandemic. Normally, the organization would be presenting lively interactive programming in schools. While this is not currently possible, the organization’s strong social media platform has positioned it to continue reaching youth by ramping up virtual programming and outreach online.

“We’ve retained a social media marketing consultant to significantly increase the volume of B2B messaging, blogs and videos that bring comfort and encouragement to youth who feel isolated and are subject to cyberbullying during these very difficult times,” said Dimitri Halkidis, the organization’s president and founder.

COVID-19 has created new challenges for students, and cyberbullying is on the rise, Halkidis said. Youth are also struggling with self-esteem, motivation, stress and anxiety as they face the challenge of distance learning. Many students are experiencing these changes as loss.

“The most important thing is to reach out and make sure you’re in touch with family and friends and everyone is okay,” Halkidis said. “Kids are scared to talk to someone, and we really need to let them be heard.”

Currently, the organization is producing PSAs with its celebrity, community and student ambassadors for internal usage in schools. Many of the schools are providing time during distance learning programs to address social emotional challenges. Students watch the PSAs and then have a dialogue about the messaging.

These PSAs can be particularly effective because youth are seeing familiar and trusted faces in the ambassadors, Halkidis said. Youth ambassador Solange Signoret has reached more than 20,000 kids in presentations over the last few years. Programming also includes celebrity ambassadors that students recognize from shows they watch.

Videos are also available for anyone to view on the organization’s website and YouTube channel.

Last week, the organization finished filming its C.A.P.E. programming for K-third graders. The program’s acronym stands for Courage, Appreciation, Personal Health and Education. Elementary school student dynamics differ greatly between third and fourth graders, according to Halkidis, and the organization felt it was important to create content that would have the most impact for younger students. The program is funded by The Anderson’s Children’s Foundation.

“During this time, the major challenge has been fundraising due to COVID-19. We had to cancel multiple of our yearly events,” Halkidis said. “Luckily, we have foundations that truly believe in us and have given us grants to further produce our virtual programming.”

Recently, the organization also received a Riverside County Nonprofit Assistance Fund grant through the Inland Empire Community Foundation and continues to need support. Individuals who would like to help can donate through the website.

Halkidis hopes the expansion of virtual programs will help the organization reach more kids, both in and out of the region. Any schools that are interested in virtual programming for students can reach out to Boo2Bulling for more information. The organization hopes to reach as many schools as possible.

“Whatever it takes, we are there for the schools and really blessed that our ambassadors are still onboard to keep our mission going,” Halkidis said “We need more kindness, awareness and to appreciate people no matter who they are.”

For more information, call (760) 656-0309 or visit boo2bullying.org.

The Inland Empire Community Foundation’s mission is to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy. Learn more about them at iegives.org.



Source link