More than 160 students, parents and community activists gathered for the 2nd Annual Bullying Awareness Walk at the recent North Hempstead Beach Park in Port Washington.
The event featured motivational speeches, inspiring musical performances from local students, topical breakout sessions, and a unified walk around the park. Students from Wheatley, Carle Place, Port Washington, and Mineola participated.
Herricks High School students Disha Singh and Aeyla Gioia opened the program by welcoming the crowd. Singh and Gioia teamed up with the Town a year ago for the First Bullying Awareness Walk and formed the anti-bullying group “Young Optimistic Upstanders.”
They introduced North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth who addressed the importance of making North Hempstead a “Bully Free Zone”.
“Bullying is not accepted in the Town of North Hempstead,” Bosworth said. “We all need to be ‘upstanders’ who are empowered to stand up and say ‘no’ when a peer is being bullied.”
"Today gives us the opportunity to look for that one comfort, that one person you can speak to in a time of need,” Singh said.
Several breakout sessions addressing issues such as relational aggression, warning signs of depression, and LGBT acceptance led by licensed social workers and psychologists, served to educated participants on how to deal with bullying.
Barbara Murphy-Schwaner of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County issued the keynote address and spoke of support groups that are necessary for those who have been bullied. “Intervention is needed and it should be a team effort,” she said. “Educators, parents and mental health professionals should all be involved.”
Town officials in attendance included Town Clerk Wayne Wink, Receiver of Taxes Charles Berman, and Councilman Peter Zuckerman.