PCA and The National School Climate Center launch the Athletes with Courage Program

PCA and The National School Climate Center Launch the Athletes with Courage Program

With support from The Choose Kindness Project, the program centers around student-athlete voices and leadership.

(January 12, 2023) – Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) and The National School Climate Center (NSCC) at Ramapo for Children together have launched the Athletes with Courage (AC) program – a new student-led, data-driven bullying prevention initiative being piloted in four high schools across the nation.  After being selected as founding members of The Choose Kindness Project and receiving collaborative grant support from ABC Network, ESPN, and the Walton Family Foundation, PCA and NSCC came together to develop a unique transformative program that centers around student-athlete voices and leadership. Berkeley High School (Berkeley, CA), Midview High School (Grafton, OH), Murrieta Mesa High School (Murrieta, CA), and Lindblom Math & Science Academy (Chicago, IL) are participating in the initial pilot program, and each school has selected a student-athlete leadership team made up of 15-30 diverse student-athlete groups.

The school administration at each school is motivated and committed to upholding positive cultures, and bringing this pilot program to their campus:

“Berkeley High Athletics is thrilled to be part of the Athletes with Courage pilot program. While we’ve spent the last few years training coaches and athletes to be Double-Goal coaches and Triple-Impact Competitors, this program allows our athletes to take their leadership skills beyond their teams and to do good for the whole campus student body! Thank you to the Positive Coaching Alliance, the National School Climate Center, and the ESPN/Disney Choose Kindness Project for this wonderful opportunity. Go Jackets!”

-Ross Parker, Athletic Director at Berkeley High

On Friday, December 16th, 2022, the Athletes with Courage program kicked off with a virtual summit. The student-athlete leadership teams at each of the schools came together to develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to understand and respond to bullying, as well as connect with other student-athletes in team-based problem-solving and leadership development.

“Being an athlete means higher visibility in the school environment and, consequently, a greater sense of responsibility. We look to them to set a good example and lead the way,”

Christina Davis, Athletic Director at Lindblom

There were over 53 student-athletes in attendance for the first virtual summit, sharing enthusiasm and valuable insights around their role in preventing bullying on their campus and within their communities.

“As honored as Midview High School is to be featured in this Summit, we are equally as fortunate to work alongside the exemplary student-athletes willing to champion this effort. Together, we believe we can create compelling shared conversations to advance understanding of the devastating effects of bullying and to, hopefully, empower student-athletes to become agents for positive change in their schools, community, and beyond.”

Brian Siftar, Principal of Midview High School

“Mesa is extremely excited to continue to build a culture of awareness surrounding anti-bullying. Athletics has always been the most visible group on campus which makes our responsibility in ensuring healthy and safe campuses that more important. Partnering with PCA allows all my student athletes and coaches access to proper training from one of the leading organizations in the country in anti-bullying and as an AD that makes me pretty proud.”

John Broussard, Assistant Principal & Athletic Director at Murrieta Mesa

The AC program will include leadership training for coaches and student-athletes, a bias-based bullying survey that will be administered to the entire school population at all four schools by the end of February, and another virtual summit in the spring where the student-athletes will prepare to develop, lead and execute anti-bullying campaigns.

“Launching the Athletes with Courage program in collaboration with NSCC is an incredible opportunity to bring student voices to the forefront of impactful growth in mental wellness, cultivating positive environments, and eliminating bullying on campus. We couldn’t be more excited that the Athletes with Courage program is new and unique, combining NSCC’s highly successful research and data collection on positive school climate with PCA’s decades of experience providing workshops on creating positive youth sports experiences.”

Jason Sacks, PCA President

“We are glad to partner with PCA to pilot Athletes with Courage.  This program is truly driven by the student-athletes, centering their ideas and leadership in bullying prevention in their own schools.  Our work in school climate and bullying prevention is based on decades of research and student-led offerings in schools around the U.S., and we are excited to see it applied in the context of sports.  We are grateful to ESPN, ABC, and The Walton Family Foundation for their support of The Choose Kindness Project, and look forward to this program growing and flourishing for years to come.”

Sabrina Evans-Ellis, Executive Director, National School Climate Center at Ramapo

About NSCC and PCA

The National School Climate Center at Ramapo (NSCC) partners with schools to build positive cultures where all young people can thrive. NSCC has decades of experience providing research-based programs that support students, families, educators, and communities.

Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) aims to change the culture of youth sports so that every child, regardless of social or economic circumstance, has access to a positive youth sports experience. PCA provides research-based training and resources for coaches, parents, athletes, and leaders.

NSCC & PCA are founding members of the Choose Kindness Project, an alliance supported by ABC network, ESPN, and the Walton Family Foundation. Athletes with Courage is made possible with support from ESPN.