The Irvington Diversity Foundation (IDF) is asking everyone in the Rivertowns to come together to help create a world where kids no longer tourment and abuse each other by becoming aware of the affects of bullying in the everyday lives of local students.
“Of course the issue is not only a student’s issue, it’s a community issue,” said Michael Zeldes, an Irvington parent and president of the IDF. “Too many parents still do not understand that what may appear to be ‘kids being kids’ is actually potentially dangerous behavior backed up by nationwide statistics of students who become depressed and even commit suicide as the result of constant harassment by other students.”
The IDF is inviting all residents of the Rivertowns to its movie night Thursday at 6:45 p.m. in the Irvington High School Theater. Admission is free and students will be served free pizza.
A short documentary film, titled “It Gets Better,” created by Irvington High School (IHS) students—showcasing stories from students on their personal hardships and differences—will be shown before the 2011 documentary “Bully.” "Bully" is rated PG-13, and was edited down from the “R” rated version, and is only appropriate for middle and high schools students.
“It Gets Better,” was created by IHS sophomore Spencer Cohen and his fellow students who asked about 30 middle and high school students to divulge their stories on how they overcame personal tribulations before whittling the film down to 13-minutes.
“Bully” was directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker Lee Hirsch, who himself was bullied as a child, and follows the lives of five students in America who are bullied on a daily basis including two students, Tyler Long and Ty Smalley, who ultimately commit suicide.
According to the documentary’s website—more than 13 million kids will be bullied this year whether its online, at school, on the bus, through their cell phones, at home, a friends home, or at the mall, while 3 million students will stay home from school because they don’t feel safe.
“The event is more than a movie screening,” said Zeldes. “It is a ‘must see’ for students who all too often do not realize the power of their words and how they make others feel.”
A panel discussion—including Irvington Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kristopher Harrison, Irvington’s high and middle school principals, youth officers from the police department, and Irvington based child psychologist Dr. Heather Goldman—will be held following the film. Irvington Mayor Brian Smith and Irvington Police Chief Michael Cerone will also be in attendance.
The IDF—a non-profit organization, whose motto is “We’re All Different Together”—was formed in March 2011 by Zeldes, parents, administrators and teachers to raise funds for and promote anti-bullying programs and community events. Click here to read more on the IDF on Rivertowns Patch and visit the IDF’s website at irvingtondf.org.
The Bully Project.com aims to have one million students seen the film. So far, about 250,947 have. Zeldes hopes to increase those numbers with a large turnout Thursday.
“Hopefully we get people who might not realize that kids are committing suicide over this and there’s some really horrible stuff going—whether you saw it growing up as a kid or not,” said Zeldes.