Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 hosted a Unity Day on October 20 in an effort to come together with a powerful message that bullying should never be part of a childhood. (Supplied photo)

Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 hosted a Unity Day on October 20 in an effort to come together with a powerful message that bullying should never be part of a childhood. (Supplied photo)

Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 fights bullying with Unity Day

By Kelly White

Oak Lawn-Hometown School District 123 proudly celebrated the beauty of unity.

The district hosted a Unity Day on October 20 in an effort to come together with a powerful message that bullying should never be part of a childhood.

“It doesn’t matter how you look; it matters how you act,” Matthew Hillock, 11, of Oak Lawn, said.

Matthew’s message reflected loud and clear on Unity Day, a day of coming together and staying positive.

“Unity Day is a day to reflect on kindness and acceptance and spread the word that bullying is never accepted,” Shannon Mural, District 123’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Coach, said.

Oak Lawn-Hometown District 123 operates six schools, which include preschool through eighth-grade all within the Oak Lawn area: Covington, Hannum, Hometown, Kolmar, Oak Lawn-Hometown Middle School and Sward.

The district has a long and rich tradition of excellent academic programming, high expectations, and a commitment to meeting the needs of the whole child, and Unity Day highly reflects those traditions.

This was the Unity Day, held district-wide. Both students and teachers alike are happy to keep it a yearly tradition.

“Teachers and staff want to educate students that bullying is never OK,” Mural said. “Teachers want to spread kindness and acceptance of everyone.”

Mural explained that as part of a PBIS Leadership Team, the district decided to focus on one theme each trimester of the school year. Trimester one is focusing on unity. Trimester two is focusing on kindness. Trimester three will focus on respect.

“Each theme focuses on bringing a positive message to students,” Mural said.

Students are also just as happy to be a part of the anti-bullying effort.

“To me, Unity Day means to come together and stop bullying, to stop treating people differently, and to just get along because we are all people and can all be friends,” Antonio Cruz, 11, of Oak Lawn, said.

On Unity Day, students within the district were encouraged to wear orange, the official color of Unity Day. Because Unity Day is held during the month of October, and orange is a color commonly identified with that month and season, it was chosen to represent unity. Orange is described as warm and inviting, and its vibrancy makes a strong statement, and it is also a color associated with safety and visibility.

Students were also taught to also dance to unite and walk away bullying. Teachers participated by sharing videos and pictures of students actively promoting kindness on Twitter under the hashtag D123unites.

“Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others,” Aine Page, 11, of Oak Lawn, said.

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