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Bucyrus Elementary "Defender's Club" Tackling Social Issues

The following originally appeared on the Bucyrus City Schools' website.

Over the course of the school year, eight boys from the Bucyrus Elementary School have worked alongside local attorney and Bucyrus alumni Adam Stone, researching and advocating against three major problems facing the community today: poverty hunger, bullying and substance abuse.

This newly formed "Defenders Club" stems from the Speak Truth to Power (STTP) framework, a project of the Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Center for Justice and Human Rights, which uses the experiences of courageous defenders from around the world to educate students and others about human rights, and urges them to take action.

According to Stone, the goal of the club is threefold:

  1. To open students' eyes to the fact that these problems do exist in Bucyrus
  2. To help students understand that these problems usually take place right in front of them
  3. To teach students that there are things people can do / are obligated to do to help one another

The group started off the year studying RFK's quote: "It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and, crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance," and establishing what the message meant to them, as a whole. They then discussed and defined each topic, explaining how it affected BES and what they could do to make a difference.

"Unfortunately, some of the members of the group are all too familiar with these problems, while others are completely unaware of major issues going on around them," Stone said. "While I feel it's important to teach them about the issues, I feel it's even more important to help them find a solution. If nothing else, I want to empower them to do something about their own plight, while teaching them that no matter what their age, they can make a difference in the world around them."

The group is already taking initiative, sponsoring a school-wide food drive with donations going to support the school's backpack program. "The kids are really excited about it," Stone said. "They developed the idea from the ground up." BES students are encouraged to bring in a canned/boxed item every Monday or Thursday, today through March 19. In return they will receive a Speak Truth to Power wristband and a water drop that says, "I am a ripple of hope." Water drops will be hung in the hallway, mimicking the imagery of a ripple building a current that could wipe down "even the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance" as found in RFK's quote. Community members can also participate by dropping off goods to the BES office.

"Success breeds success," Stone said. "I can't wait to see what happens." For more information regarding the Defenders Club, contact Stone at 419-562-2110.

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