October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and H-E-B is inviting Texas students to join the H-E-B Buddy League, challenging them to “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully.” Inspired by H-E-B’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, the company says, the effort promotes kindness and respect and discourages harmful behaviors such as teasing, exclusion and bullying.
In its third year, the H-E-B Buddy League kicked off a statewide tour of the “H-E-B Buddy League Training Academy.” Using song and animation, the live show takes students through five training tasks that demonstrate bullying behaviors and show ways to stand up to bullying and promote unity. The live performance has hit the road and will stop at 27 elementary schools across Texas throughout the month.
Additionally, H-E-B employees will visit first-grade through third-grade classrooms at more than 300 schools to engage students in a variety of anti-bullying activities and conversations. Teachers will receive an H-E-B Buddy League Kit filled with bilingual materials to continue the dialogue. For schools not scheduled for visits, teachers can download a free activity guide paired with an interactive H-E-B Buddy League Training Academy video and order free H-E-B Buddy League Kits at heb.com/league.
“The students love it,” said Lacy Bruce, second grade teacher at Johnston Elementary in Abilene Independent School District. “The program emphasizes kindness and the importance of including everyone, and fits well with other programs on campus that incorporate positive values and social skills.”
Bullying is a widespread issue that can cause negative physical, social and mental-health issues. It’s estimated that between one in four students has been bullied at school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics. Children who are bullied more often experience depression, anxiety, and feelings of sadness and loneliness as well as experience lower academic achievement and school participation.
In addition to the presentations and online resources, first-grade through third-grade students are eligible for the H-E-B Buddy League Student Advocate Award, which recognizes children who demonstrate acts of kindness, respect, courage and inclusion. Teachers can nominate students online at heb.com/league now through Feb. 28. Winners will be recognized and receive an H-E-B Buddy League Prize Pack.
“H-E-B is a passionate supporter of education and understands that children are successful and learn best when they have safe learning environments,” said Sonia Quirino Canales, H-E-B diversity and inclusion manager. “Since we launched the program, tens of thousands of Texas elementary students have participated in the H-E-B Buddy League, and we hope to reach even more children this year.”