Sunday, March 8, 2009


The YMCA Center for Asset Development joined forces with STARS Nashville Specialists to educate and train student athletes, leaders and coaches in a day long summit featuring the best of what these two youth serving agencies offer in positive youth development and bullying prevention. Also on the team were former Tennessee Titan Kevin Dyson and local sports radio host Willy Daunic. Staff and volunteers worked side by side with over 400 student athletes and 23 coaches/educators in bullying and harassment prevention strategies. The entire athletic program was challenged as a whole to use their power within the school and the community to make a difference for the good and to take a stand against bullying.

Kevin Dyson and Willy Daunic kicked off the day by sharing stories from their ‘glory days’ and highlighting life after sports, raising the bar for having a vision for life. Rotating workshops focused on the dangers and pitfalls of bullying, the responsibility of confronting harassment as a bystander and the power of influence they had as leaders in the school and the community. Athletes were introduced to a strength-based framework for healthy living (known as the Developmental Assets™) as a strategy they could use to maximize their own lives and that of their peers.

Coaches simultaneously attended a workshop on what it means to be a good coach and to learn more about the assets as a way to build players for life. After lunch, coaches and athletes joined together in an activity that helped them further explore empathy as they identified various ways they themselves have been victims, bystanders, bullies or defenders. The closing session brought everything home as the opportunity was extended for forgiveness to be offered and given, and then a challenge was issued for athletes to step it up and truly be LEADERS in their schools.

*STARS Nashville, the leader in school-based Student Assistance Program services in Middle Tennessee, serves more than 112 schools and community sites in 11 Middle Tennessee counties. STARS Specialists work within our schools and communities to help all students overcome social and emotional barriers to learning.

*The Center for Asset Development is part of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, a not-for-profit, worldwide charitable fellowship united by a common loyalty to Jesus Christ for the purpose of helping persons grow in spirit, mind and body. With 30 centers and 253 program locations, the YMCA reaches 278,328 lives—1 of every 6 people in the 12-county area it serves—through membership, program participation, volunteerism and philanthropy. The YMCA builds strong kids, strong families, and strong communities.

What school staff and students said about the day:

“I’ve gotten the best feedback from the coaches that this is just what the school needs. And if the coaches say it’s good, you’re on to something. They’re the toughest audience.” – event coordinator

“This exceeds my expectations.” - principal

“It brought me back to one of my best friends that I thought I’d never get back. It was eye-opening.” – 10th grade student

“There’s a different feel in the air at school (next day). You could really feel it in basketball practice.” - a girl basketball player

“The presenters really changed my life with this program . . .” – 12th grader
“It opened my heart and mind to so-o-o much!” – 10th grader

“It changed me!” – 10th grader

“This training helped me to see how selfish I am at times . . . I believe [the day] had a positive influence on everyone!” – 10th grader

“The experience has opened a lot of eyes and I’m expecting a big change.” – 10th grader

“This was a very fun but touch subject.” – 11th grader

“I learned that being a defender is the right thing to do.” – 11th grader