By Stacy Engebretson. CREATED Feb 27, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Name calling, pushing and online harassment. Bullying can come in many forms, but some Green Bay students are taking a stand against it to make their school a better place to learn and grow.
They call themselves the "Power Girls." Mya Marchant joined the anti-bullying group after experiencing the harassment herself.
"It didn't feel good at all. It makes you feel like nothing," explained the 8th grader.
Community Programs Coordinator Sue Schwartz started the Power Girls a few months ago at Aldo Leopold Community School.
"I just recognized some of the things that I struggled with when I was in middle school, and I wanted to help them to use my life experiences so they had an easier time, said Schwartz.
The empowerment program is already 35 members strong. Schwartz couldn't be happier with the response.
"Research shows that the girls start to lose their self-esteem in 4th and 5th grade, so we want to be pro-active," said Schwartz.
7th and 8th graders in the Power Girls program mentor younger students and teach them to identify and combat bullying through various exercises.
"We're going to teach them about how if you say something mean to someone, it stays there forever and it leaves a scar," explained 13-year-old Hannah Potter.
4th grader Katherine Escandel says she's hearing the Power Girls' message loud and clear and knows exactly what to do if a bully starts picking on her.
"I've learned just walk away or just find an adult close to you to tell them."
The group also teaches leadership and personal safety skills through a self defense class. Members also designed purple and green bracelets that say "We Stand Together." They encourage everyone in the school to wear one to show that they stand united against bullying. Being a part of "Power Girls" has opened Mya's eyes.
"It's impacted me a lot. Even I can see a change with how close we're getting and how the little kids aren't bullying as much as I've seen in the past," she said. "It's made me see that even if you don't get along with someone, you still have to respect them."
Mya says she's learning how to be confident and independent and is glad she can share that strength with others to stop the cycle of bullying.
"For me, just to help people is a great thrill."
So what's next for the Power Girls? Well, the movement is catching on. The girls are teaming up with some boys who are members of Aldo Leopold Community School's "Unity" group. The Power Girls also plan to spread their message to other students in the district by presenting their anti-bullying program in other schools.