SKOKIE, IL - March 11, 2011 - The Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center has received a $250,000 grant from Exelon Corporation to establish the Museum's Anti-Bullying Initiative. The new educational program kicked off with a full-day workshop entitled STAND UP! Youth Leadership Day on Wednesday, March 9. A program of the Miller Family Youth Exhibition, over 60 fifth and sixth grade students participated, traveling to the museum from Chicago and surrounding suburbs, Rockford, and Northwest Indiana.
Museum tours and group activities fostered the students' leadership skills and helped them develop action plans to combat bullying in their schools and communities. Students heard from keynote speaker, Nadja Halibegovich, a survivor of the war in Bosnia whose story demonstrates the difference even a young person can make. Nadja kept a diary during the war that chronicled her fear and uncertainty, but also her desire to bring hope to her community. After being wounded by shrapnel from a bombshell, at age 14 Nadja began hosting a radio program in Sarajevo. She shared music, poetry, and entries from her diary to inspire her fellow citizens and share her hope for peace.
With Exelon's support, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center will expand its anti-bullying programming to include new resources and training for students, teachers, administrators and community organizations. One such resource is the Steps to Respect Bullying Prevention Program, which teaches elementary students to recognize, refuse, and report bullying; be assertive; and build friendships. The program was developed by Committee for Children, a non-profit with which the Museum has partnered to support programming in Illinois schools
"Exelon is pleased to be a longtime supporter of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and its mission to combat prejudice and promote human rights," said Steven Solomon, director of corporate relations at Exelon. "We are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion not only within our company, but also in the communities we serve. Consistent with that goal, the Museum's anti-bullying initiative equips young people with critical tools to help them fight bullying in their schools and neighborhoods."
Richard S. Hirschhaut, Museum executive director, applauded the Exelon initiative. "We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with so many young people and help them find the courage to stand up for others and make a difference in their communities. Because of Exelon's leadership on this issue, we will be able to reach even more students, offer even more relevant programming, and involve thought leaders across the region to help foster the values of respect and inclusion."
Following STAND UP! Day, the Anti-Bullying Initiative continues with Summer Institutes for Educators, two intensive, week-long seminars illustrating age-appropriate resources and strategies for teaching the Holocaust, genocide, and other related issues. In the fall of 2011,
the Museum will convene an Anti-Bullying Forum, bringing together educators, thought leaders, community agencies, coalition leaders, law enforcement professionals, and health care and social workers for a working day focused on solution-based collaborations toward bullying prevention.
Likely the last international institution of its kind built with the active participation of Holocaust survivors, the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center is the largest facility in the Midwest dedicated to preserving the memories of those lost in the Holocaust and to teaching current generations to fight hatred, indifference and genocide in today's world. The Museum is located at 9603 Woods Drive, Skokie. The Museum is open Monday through Friday: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.; Thursday evenings: until 8:00 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays: 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
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