HISD’s Pershing Middle School and Durham Elementary School Round Out +Works’ 2010-2011 +School Pilot Program

New Houston-based, Grass-roots, Non-profit Organization on a Mission to Get Ahead of Bullying with Positive Talk and Action Works with Six-school Coalition to Lead Houston’s Educational Community Toward Authentic +Change

More Than 4,800 Houston Students to Experience the +Works +School Program in the New Year

HOUSTON, TX, December 16, 2010, — +Works (pronounced Positive Works), a new Houston-based, grass-roots, non-profit organization created by concerned parents to get ahead of America’s bullying epidemic with positive talk and action, announces its final roster of +Pilot Schools.  Houston Independent School District’s Pershing Middle School and Durham Elementary join St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School, Mark Twain Elementary School, St. Paul’s School and West University Elementary School in +Works’ coalition of schools for the 2010-2011 school year, and will be actively implementing the program on their campuses and promoting it to parents, beginning in January.

“In the new year, more than 4,800 Houston-area students, representing public, private and parochial schools, will be exposed to our ground-breaking bullying awareness program which strives for zero tolerance for adult nonaction, and fosters resilience, empathy and the courage to act in children and adults,” said Sarah Fisher, Co-founder and CEO of +Works.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this exciting pilot program!” said Robin Lowe, Principal of Pershing Middle School.  “Our parents brought this opportunity to us; and together with +Works and this prestigious network of schools, we know that our students will be positively impacted.”

“+Works is a cutting-edge program that empowers students, parents and teachers to combat bullying. By pulling together for a common goal we can create great change,” said Durham Elementary Principal Daniel Breiman.

Since introducing the program in late May, co-founders and marketing moms Sarah Fisher and Trish Morille have presented via grass-roots parent and educator contacts to numerous schools throughout the greater Houston area, including River Oaks Baptist School, The Kinkaid School, Raul C. Martinez Elementary School, Pin Oak Middle School, Poe Elementary School, Travis Elementary School and St. John’s School, among others. +Works has closed its pilot program for the school year to focus on program development and evaluation but will continue speaking to parent and community groups through Spring 2011 to further grass roots support for the +Works message and programs. Their +School programs will be further developed in concert with their pilot schools over the coming months and re-released to a wider group of schools this coming fall.

Message: Bullying is a Process — Not a Person
The +Works school and family programs seek to build awareness of bullying as a process — not a person. “Bullying is a process that is enabled by adults,” said Morille, +Works Executive Vice President.  “As we’ve learned from international bullying expert Dr. Stuart Twemlow, who strongly endorses and participates in our program:  bullies only do what bystanders allow.  And at +Works, we take that up a notch and say that children only do what adults allow.  Zero tolerance for bullying is a non-starter.  We call for zero tolerance for adult nonaction on the bullying issue.”

With an upbeat, visually-appealing campaign featuring a “positive/plus” sign at its heart, the +Works +Family and +School awareness programs provide students, parents, educators and other community stakeholders with the opportunity to take positive action on the bullying crisis from home to homeroom.  Both family and school
programs combine awareness/educational materials with a uniquely integrated visual awareness campaign, all created with a compelling objective in mind:  to help children develop key life skills (empathy, resilience and the courage to act) by wrapping consistent educational messages and visual reminders around them at home, at school and in their neighborhood.

The +Works approach combines strong science with a heavy dose of “Momstinct” and is backed by leading mental health professionals, including Menninger Clinic/Baylor College of Medicine’s Dr. Stuart Twemlow, who has conducted more than 40 years of research internationally on bullying and school violence and co-authored the book Why School Antibullying Programs Don’t Work.  The +Works programs also draw on and actively promote the work of nationally best-selling authors Dr. Martin E. Seligman (The Optimistic Child), Rosalind Wiseman (Queen Bees and Wannabees), Rachel Simmons (Odd Girl Out) and others.

“What will make this approach effective is its expectation of positive outcomes; its method of dealing with conflict in a positive, ‘learn something’ fashion; its visible daily reminders of its core values, wherever you look; and its core belief that you must reward several times more often than you punish to be effective as a teacher and a parent,” said Dr. Twemlow, who edited the program’s materials and provides a foreword to the organization’s +Parent and +Teacher (Pre-K, K-Gr.4 and Gr. 5-8) Guides.

Parents and Educators Working Together Toward Authentic +Change
“This is not a ‘positive cult, and we do not take a Pollyanna approach to bullying,” said Fisher. “We do suggest it’s time to stop the blame game and for parents and schools to lock arms on this issue in a drive for authentic positive change.  We believe this change needs to begin at home; and to that end, we need to hold up a mirror to ourselves as a generation of parents and take a good hard look at the ‘cultural cocktail’ we are serving our kids on a daily basis.  It’s time to examine the choices we are making in regards to technology, entertainment, behavioral expectations and behavior modeling in our own homes. It’s time to reflect on the hypercompetitiveness embedded in our children’s daily lives and how that impacts their behavior and our behavior as parents.  It’s time to ask ourselves if trading our children’s long-term mental health is worth their short-term success and popularity,” she added.  “It’s a tough but vital question for all parents today.”

Fisher and Morille, both moms of two and marketing communications professionals, are providing their services in support of this important cause on a 100 percent pro bono basis. Other concerned parents, grandparents, educators and mental health professionals round out the +Works Board and Advisory Group.  +Works is building grass roots support in other facets of the community as well, with endorsements from Texas State Representative Ellen Cohen, Houston City Council member and former Mayor Pro-Tem Anne Clutterbuck, Mental Health America of Greater Houston and mental health advocate Maureen Hackett.

“We are truly humbled by the growing wave of support in the Houston community for our +Works programs,” said Morille.  “We believe we have struck a nerve because the time has come for all of us to not only reflect on this critical issue but to act.”

“Like other parents, we struggle every day to raise compassionate and courageous children whom can meet the harsh reality of bullying with empathy and positive action,” said Fisher. “We must ultimately come to grips as a nation that we are indeed, and in fact, a bullying society and that a sea change is necessary for our kids to have a brighter future.  We truly believe there is hope for positive change if we commit ourselves seriously as a community team of parents and schools to doing what is right for our children.”

For more information, contact +Works at aware@positivethinkingworks.org or 832-260-3131.