Each October, in honor of Bullying Awareness Month, Hillsborough County’s Anti-Bullying Awareness Committee recognizes a student or students who have gone above and beyond to make a difference in our community. This year, it wasn’t just one person who stood out, but a local elementary school student and a group of students who are taking a stand against bullying and encouraging others to join them in the fight.
Meet this year’s Hillsborough County Anti-Bullying Award Recipients:
Blakely Stuntz, Tampa Palms Elementary Third-Grader/Founder and President of The Anti-Bullying Club
Blakely was nominated by her school principal’s secretary who was impressed by the third-grader’s work to launch an Anti-Bullying Club at Tampa Palms Elementary last school year. She created a power point presentation and pitched her ideas to her principal and even recruited teachers to oversee the club’s meetings. The students met once a week after school to talk about ways to promote kindness, write scripts for their morning show, and create posters to display throughout the school. She even created a worksheet for her fellow students to write how they were witness to it.
We asked Blakely why it was so important for her to create this club:
Blakely: It was important because several of my friends had come up to me before and were upset about being bullied. I had also experienced it and it was terrible. I wanted to create a way for other kids to be able to educate themselves about it and how to stop it, for their friends and themselves.
How she would encourage other kids to create similar clubs at their school:
Blakely: Look for a teacher that supports you and makes you believe in yourself.
How she feels about being recognized for her work:
Blakely: It feels amazing! It means a lot to me to see that I have done something to help stop bullying.
Men of Vision, Inc.
Men of Vision, Inc, is a service organization with a mission to intervene in the lives of boys and provide them with alternatives that will lead them away from a life of crime and violence and show them their value to the community and society. The organization is at 10+ Hillsborough County Public Schools.
For the last five years, Men of Vision has sponsored an Anti-Bullying/Cyber Bullying poster contest at each participating school, encouraging students to create posters and video clips to raise awareness. It was inspired by MOV President Anthony Walker who witnessed a student being bulled at his school. He not only wanted to do something about it, but wanted every Men of Vision member to understand that being a witness and not reporting bullying, or doing something about it, makes you part of the problem.
How kids at other schools can get involved”
MOV: They can join us and start their own school-wide anti-bullying campaign by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How it feels to be recognized for their work:
MOV: These young men believe that violence has never solved any issues. As a community and in our schools, students should feel safe. This award brings more awareness to Hillsborough County Schools students with disabilities, [and with different] ethnicities and sexual orientation or gender identity to know that there are young men that will always “Say something if they see something.”
Stuntz and Men of Vision, Inc. will be recognized during the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners meeting on Oct. 4 where they will also be presented with a monetary award sponsored by Eliah Ewing, a Private Wealth Advisor and Founding Partner with Windward Wealth Management.
*Photos provided by Hillsborough County’s Anti-Bullying Awareness Committee | Originally Published in October 2023 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.