For Neepawa’s anti-bullying group “Our Home, Our Team, 23 Years Proud” it’s all about the ability to see the positive in something negative.
Following the incident that affected the Neepawa Natives and grabbed national headlines last season, the 23 Years Proud group formed behind co-chairs Kevin Harris and Amanda Cathcart with the aim to not only support Neepawa’s Junior ‘A’ club but also raise anti-bullying awareness.
The first step for the group was to help organize the Free Game and Hazing Awareness Week held early last year to support the Natives and help “start the healing process for the community”.
With 1,000 people attending the game to support the team the night was undoubtedly a success.
The 23 Years Proud group has since raised around $6,000 which they now plan to put to use to help raise awareness for anti-bullying efforts in Neepawa schools and sports.
“We’re trying to do proactive things to try to stop that type of thing from happening again in Neepawa,” Cathcart said. “Hazing is an act of bullying..and bullying can happen in athletics, in schools, or anywhere.
“We looked at different things and we decided this was the right way to go.”
As a result, 23 Years Proud will be bringing well-known motivational and anti-bullying speaker Jim Jordan to Neepawa to speak to students, the community and the Natives players on Thursday, Sept. 20.
Jordan has 20 years experience, has won multiple awards for his work and offers both school and corporate anti-bullying presentations in both Canada and the USA.
In the morning, Grade 4-12 students from Neepawa will be attending a presentation at NACI that focuses on anti-bullying in both school and sports environments. The Neepawa Natives players will also be at the presentation.
Jordan will hold another presentation for parents and community members that evening currently scheduled for 7 p.m.
For members of 23 Years Proud, the aim is to empower the bystanders and educate everyone at a young age about the negative effects bullying and hazing can have on others.
“We looked at different options and this was the way to go. We want to educate people about the type of bullying that happens in all sports,” Harris explained. “Bullying and hazing are things that happen everywhere and should be addressed, and we’re doing that in our community.”
23 Years Proud is also planning a community breakfast for September and the Natives home opener is Sept. 21, a day after the anti-bullying presentations.