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Students take part in ‘World of Difference’ Program

  • May 17, 2013

CBS 6 in Albany

SCHENECTADY (WRGB) – When the state of New York took a tougher stance on bullying with its passage of the Dignity for all Students Act in 2012, it required each school to have a specially trained coordinator. Staff members, taking on the additional role as Dignity Act Coordinators (by law one per school) serve as a resource to students, parents and employees on dealing with issues of harassment or discrimination on school grounds. To find out who your school’s Dignity Act Coordinators are, they are listed on the school’s website.

Separate to the DASA, is another program working towards the same goal. Instead of adults running the show, it’s the students themselves.

We spoke to Shenendehowa students Joseph Davila and Molly Poniatowski, both part of the Anti-Defamation League’s ‘World of Difference’ program. Focusing on peer education, several schools in the Capitol Region have taken part in its customizable programs. It’s not just specific to schools – corporations, even law enforcement agencies use it internationally. Nearly 70 students partake in the WOD program at SHEN. Through training, they become peer educators and work to teach students in the lower schools about bullying. This is done through activities and workshops.

Davila says his experiences with bullying in Middle School prompted him to join WOD. He now serves as co-president at his school.

 “I really wanted to help students in the middle school that had the same problems I did. So when I was a sophomore I decided to go out for the club and now I love it.” Davila says. “On a day-to-day basis I try to do as much as I can.”

Pontiatowski says having Dignity Act Coordinators in all schools is a great resource; however they think the concept of peer education makes for a more comfortable environment.

 “It’s a positive way to see – hey, that person is in my health class. I know them. They’re an ally and I can be an ally too.”