Arizona Teen Starts an Anti-Bullying Snowball
Young people in the United States have a tremendous amount of power to affect change in the communities around them. At Start A Snowball, we want to remind young people that they have the power to change things for the better. We want to encourage them and empower them to act on their desire to help those around them.
When Josh Kaplan, a then Arizona elementary school student, began receiving negative text messages from classmates, his older brother Matthew took notice. High school student Matthew Kaplan saw that the text messages his younger brother was receiving said things like, “you suck” and “you’re a jerk”. Matthew realized that when you hear things like this enough you may start believing it, and he decided he was going to do something about it.
Once Matthew saw the trouble his brother was having, he realized he could make a difference for his brother and many others as well. Determined to change what he had witnessed, not only for his brother, but for other middle school kids, Matthew created an anti-bullying campaign structured through interactive workshops. He called his program The Be O.N.E. Project. During a fun-filled day of interactive games, The Be O.N.E. Project builds bridges, opens lines of communication, and instills a sense of trust and community.
Most efforts to address bullying focus on high school. The Be O.N.E. Project recognizes that, by high school, bullying behavior is often ingrained. The time to intervene comes earlier – in middle school – before the bullying behavior becomes habit. The Be O.N.E. Project challenges students to focus on their similarities and to celebrate their differences. The magic of The Be O.N.E. Project is its cornerstone philosophy that peer pressure can be captured and reversed, so that students challenge each other to include rather than to exclude, and to support rather than discourage each other.
Matthew has shown that the focus and determination of youth is a powerful force. He is spreading his anti-bullying program throughout his home state of Arizona, and is now being asked to work with officials in other states around the country to discuss how his program may be able to be spread even further. He is showing us all what it means to create a snowball. Because of this, Start A Snowball is pleased to help Matthew’s project by awarding him with one of its first grants.
To apply for a grant to start your own snowball, click the button below.