Bullying and Violence Prevention Program

Say It With Heart is an evidence-based social emotional learning program that focuses on bullying and violence prevention. It serves nearly 1,000 students in nine East End Richmond schools  including Fairfield Court Elementary, Woodville Elementary, Chimborazo Elementary, George Mason Elementary, Bellevue Elementary, Overby-Sheppard Elementary, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School, Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School and Armstrong High School.

A national study found that students who completed social emotional learning programs (like Say It With Heart) had higher rates of employment, lower levels of substance abuse and emotional health issues, lower rates of public assistance use and were less likely to have involvement with police before adulthood. A cost-benefit analysis by Columbia University researchers found that social emotional learning programs on average return $11 for every $1 invested.

Say It With Heart encourages healthy self-image, effective communication and positive relationships within the school community. It promotes an environment that celebrates the achievements of all children. Our goal is to enrich the community by teaching life skills at an early age and reinforcing them through adolescence. By raising emotional intelligence, we have a better chance of reducing destructive behaviors and promoting a healthy lifestyle both now and in the future.

Positive outcomes from the program have the potential to operate across three contexts: school, home and neighborhood. The ability to effectively and appropriately apply awareness, skills and knowledge regarding bullying strengthens the community at large.

Research indicates that social emotional learning is a "missing piece" in public education. Schools should be addressing students' behavioral and emotional needs in the same kind of systematic, standardized way that core subjects like math and English are being addressed. Studies also show that social-emotional programs, like Say It With Heart, decrease bullying up to 25% and increase academic scores an average of 11-17%.

Nationwide, 71% of children report bullying as a problem at their school. Research shows that children who are frequently bullied at age 13 have double the risk of developing clinical depression at age 18. Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school shootings and every 30 minutes a teenager attempts suicide due to bullying. Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, "Bullying can result in physical injuries, social and emotional difficulties and academic problems. It can hurt the overall health and safety of schools, neighborhoods and society." Experiences with emotional and cyber-bullying FAR outnumber physical bullying.

Say It With Heart was designed to give children the skills to learn and grow even in a challenging environment where bullying and shaming are often commonplace. The 16 week curriculum is based on Best Practices in Bullying Prevention. It is age appropriate with subject matter, language and activities evolving as students develop. During the regular school day, our Say It With Heart counselors (not classroom teachers) teach a 45-minute lesson weekly to students in grades 3-9. Specific grades are determined by a need in each individual school. Through role-playing and classroom instruction, students develop character and self-discipline. Say It With Heart also includes parent and teacher workshops throughout the year at each participating school. Parent involvement is vital to bridging the gap between home and school. Data suggests that often children who are bullied do not tell their parents and parents grossly underestimate the likelihood that their child is a victim OR bully.

Our commitment is as strong today as it was 38 years ago when we started our first youth program. Most of the children we serve live in a culture of random violence and generational poverty. Their families have a median household income under $11,000 and 98% of them qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches at school. Many have an unstable, dysfunctional family system and are experiencing academic difficulties. Most have witnessed abuse. The community is plagued with toxic stress, low life expectancy and high truancy. The risk of gang involvement and criminal activity is ever present. Challenge Discovery Projects is dedicated to working with these children to help them develop socially, emotionally and academically.

To learn more about our Say It With Heart program, please contact us at (804) 643-0002.