After receiving numerous donations, a Fort Madison group dedicated to bully prevention and victim advocacy has more than enough bracelets to go around.
Bully Proof — which began in September when adults and youths gathered at Ivanhoe Park in Fort Madison in hopes of coming up with better ways to address and deal with bullying, as well as create a support system for bullying victims, following a suicide attempt by a Fort Madison Middle School student — distributed nearly 400 red bracelets with the words “Be a friend! #BULLY PROOF” to Burlington and West Burlington fifth-graders last month.
Since then, the group has received donations totaling about 4,000 bracelets, 2,700 of which were included in an anonymous donation. Tami Parrish of Burlington, who joined Bully Proof after its first meeting and purchased the first round of bracelets for the Burlington and West Burlington students, and other group members distributed bracelets to fourth- through eighth-graders in the two districts Friday.
"We've got plenty more," Parrish said.
The Central Lee School District has granted permission for the bracelets to be passed out there as well, and the group is awaiting a decision from the Keokuk and Fort Madison school districts.
"We really appreciate the schools working with us," Parrish said. "Without them, we couldn't do this."
Fort Madison Superintendent Erin Slater denied the group's request to give bracelets to the district's sixth grade students last month because there weren't enough for everyone in the middle school to get one. Bully Proof founder Tina Martinez, however, said Slater told her the district did not want the bracelets distributed because she wanted more focus on the bully tip line the district recently put in place.
Bully Proof's next meeting will be at 5 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Fort Madison Public Library. Fort Madison Police will be there to discuss what legally can and cannot be posted to the group's Facebook. Martinez requested they be there after people began posting names of children involved in bullying to the page.