WJU, State Farm extend anti-bullying project

WEIRTON – Thanks to grant of $33,500 from State Farm Insurance, Wheeling Jesuit University (WJU) announced Tuesday the extension of a unique anti-bullying course and project into academic year 2014-15.

On Tuesday, State Farm granted WJU an additional $17,500 to continue the Coalition for Youth Safety (CYS), a course and program currently under the direction of WJU Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Dr. Larry Driscoll. This second round of grant funding brings State Farm’s total support for CYS to $33,500.

“We take our role as a good neighbor seriously when it comes to keeping families safe,” said State Farm Public Affairs Field Manager, Jen Alvarez. “Program collaborations, like Coalition for Youth Safety, allow each of us to work together to build safer, stronger and better educated communities.”

“We are grateful to State Farm for this second round of funding to help more children in more schools,” said WJU President the Rev. James Fleming, S.J. “CYS is a unique opportunity for WJU students to learn through application and to conduct community-based research while educating a younger generation of students.”

The second State Farm grant funds: stipends for guest lecturers, transportation for middle school students to the WJU campus for presentations, materials to develop the student presentations; and a web page which will freely disseminate information about these safety issues, among other program costs.

The Coalition for Youth Safety, was established in August 2013, beginning with a course to teach Wheeling Jesuit criminal justice majors about three main child safety issues: internet safety, bullying and social media. Using what they learned in class and through their own research, WJU students have developed a presentation to deliver to regional middle school students. The second phase of CYS extends the community-based learning to additional WJU students, who will take the course and continue to build on the existing presentation that has been developed. CYS’s current focus areas are Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshall counties in West Virginia.

Jamie Lesho, principal at St. Paul Catholic School in Weirton, said bringing CYS to St. Paul’s students presents a unique learning opportunity. “We’re excited to partner with Wheeling Jesuit University for this project. Educating our students about staying safe in school and online has become just as important to us as making sure they master basic subjects.”

Driscoll said research shows middle school students relate better to younger adults – someone who speaks the same language. He said students need this important information, because they are more vulnerable. Most importantly, the Wheeling Jesuit students will serve as positive role models and mentors for the young people who they will be teaching.

Wheeling Jesuit will give updates on project progress by using the Twitter hashtag #StateFarmCares.

Founded 60 years ago by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), Wheeling Jesuit University consistently is ranked as one of America’s top regional colleges by U.S. News & World Report and other organizations. WJU is the only Catholic university in West Virginia and the youngest Jesuit institution of higher learning in the United States. Its Jesuit tradition of academic excellence and service to others draws a global student body of 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students from 25 states and 26 countries. The university has 21 varsity sports programs and competes in the Mountain East Conference.

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