DANVILLE — Steve Scott was a little out of breath when he arrived at the Danville Family YMCA on Saturday morning.
With good reason. He had just run from the Martinsville-Henry County Family YMCA.
“The run was pretty good,” he said. “I’m just really excited because my training has worked out.”
That training is all part of preparation for next year’s 7-7-7 World Marathon Challenge: seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.
After he caught his breath, the YMCA member and ardent marathoner spoke at an anti-bullying campaign kickoff.
Scott has been running ever since the new Danville YMCA opened in 2014. Since then, he’s run for numerous causes and events, including the Boston Marathon.
On Saturday, Scott used the opportunity to bring attention to bullying.
“Every mile today is for the kids in Danville, Martinsville, Henry and Pittsylvania County,” he said.
Saturday marked the beginning of the Danville Family YMCA’s Battle Against Bullying Campaign Kickoff & Celebration.
The campaign is meant to last a year, with new guest speakers each month, each discussing a topic related to bullying.
The kickoff celebration supplied attendees with free food from Firehouse Subs, an open swim, caricature art, a coloring table and book signings.
Representatives of local organizations came to volunteer and speak out against bullying.
“We were asked to be a part of this event to let everyone know that bullying is a behavior we don’t tolerate,” said Robin Owens,
coordinator of student support services at Danville Public Schools.
“My cousin took her life to this, so I wanted to help out,” said Jmarion Prunty, president of the Anti-Bullying Club at Bonner Middle School.
The volunteers offered suggestions to combat bullying.
“I think self-esteem plays a key role in fighting off bullies and not allowing them to get to you,” said Adrienne Stephens, author of “Beauty in Me,” a book that promotes positive self-image in little girls. “When you have positive self-esteem, no one will be able to tell you your self-worth.”
Marya Ruth Dunning, the president of the Youth and Government Club, thinks differently.
“A big part of the principle of the government is civil discussion,” she said. “I believe that if we learn how to act civilly, there’d be a lower statistic of bullying.”
Owens explained how Danville Public Schools combats bullying by getting to the root cause of the behavior.
“We also take every report seriously, and we do investigate and give that student due process.” Owens later displayed bullying complaint sheets to show how students could report domineering behavior.
“We gotta teach kids to treat each other equally,” Scott said. “I don’t care who you are.”