School system celebrates Unity Day

Students and staff wore orange Wednesday in recognition of the event, which aimed to promote the importance of inclusion.

“Our staff modeled and participated because we want our students to know that we care and want to cultivate a safe and supportive community for all students in our schools,” said Senetra Haywood, director of student services for Glynn County Schools. “Every person’s actions matter, and we all have a role to play. We have a responsibility to create a world without bullying by uniting for kindness, acceptance and inclusion of all.”

Unity Day was started by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center as a signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month.

Bullying affects more than one in every five students nationwide. Unity Day is intended to send a universal message that bullying is not acceptable behavior.

“This is a time where we join together against bullying,” Haywood said.

She said bullying directly affects a student’s ability to learn, and students who are bullied often do not want to go to school as they frequently have difficulty concentrating, show a decline in grades and suffer from low self-esteem.

“Students who are bullied report more physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, than other students,” Haywood said. “Bullying is not only devastating while it’s happening, but research shows that negative effects of bullying may last a lifetime.”

Haywood said she hopes local schools’ intentional efforts to teach, model and encourage inclusivity will result in systemic changes in how students speak to and treat each other.

“Every child has the right to feel safe and supported, and I hope to see this initiative play a positive role in our students’ lives,” she said.