Today’s HOPE Week details from the Yankees…
The New York Yankees are proud to hold the final day of HOPE Week 2013 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) on Friday, July 12, by hosting a presentation of “Stand for the Silent” (SFTS) and its anti-bullying initiative in the Great Hall at Yankee Stadium. Kirk Smalley [in the photo], will lead the presentation, which he has given to almost 700,000 children and adults around the world. Supporting him will be Yankees General Partner/Vice Chairperson Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, Senior Vice President/General Manager Brian Cashman, Yankees players Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain, Travis Hafner, Boone Logan, Lyle Overbay and Austin Romine, along with WWE Superstar “The Big Show.” Approximately 500 students, parents and teachers from local schools and community groups will be in the audience to hear his message.
Ty Smalley was raised in the town of Perkins, just 15 minutes from the campus of Oklahoma State University, in the heart of Payne County. He was smaller than the other children his age and was the subject of unmerciful bullying for years. Deflecting insults, coping with intimidation and suffering violence were part of his daily curriculum. On May 13, 2010, 11-year-old Ty was provoked into a fight at school and suspended. Home early from school and left alone because his parents had to work, he took his own life.
That summer, Ty’s story was taken up by local high school students participating in the Oklahoma State University Upward Bound program. Together, they set a goal to end bullying in their respective high schools and began an initiative called “Stand for the Silent.”
Word of the movement spread quickly and just over three months later, a silent vigil was held on the lawn of the Oklahoma State Capitol. Related ceremonies took place simultaneously in 20 other states and six other countries, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, Spain, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Needing an outlet for their grief, Ty’s father, Kirk, and mother, Laura, threw themselves into the movement. When the summer ended, they assumed leadership of the program and took Ty’s story on the road to any school, community group or religious gathering that wanted to have them. In just three years, Stand for the Silent has spoken to almost 700,000 students, parents and teachers in the U.S. and abroad.
“Bullying is the same in the city as it is in country towns, and it’s the same among big kids as it is with little kids,” Kirk said. “The message resonates no matter where I go.”
Kirk urges children to cultivate a culture of kindness toward each other based on recognizing and celebrating the worth of every individual. At each presentation, he asks everyone in attendance to take a pledge entitled “I Am Somebody.“
Photo from the Yankees