Oct. 27, 2013
By Jasper Scherer
EVANSTON, Ill. -- When Northwestern senior All-American Marisa Bast was searching for a topic for her Undergraduate Leadership Certificate Program field study this summer, she knew she wanted to cover something that would make a lasting impact. After putting her head together with Maureen Palchak, who leads the 'Cats Give Back community outreach program for Northwestern Athletics, the two came up with a program that would address bullying, an issue in schools across the country.
Bast's "field study" has since grown into Wildcats Stand Up and ROARR (Reach Out and Reinforce Respect), a program that involves 25 dedicated student-athletes from a variety of sports across campus. Next week, on October 28 and 30, ROARR plans to visit Haven Middle School in Evanston.
During each session, the student-athletes will raise awareness about bullying through activities that show the students what they have in common with each other while telling them important facts about bullying, what bullying means to them as students and why awareness is important.
Bast is motivated to ensure that the program has a lasting impact. "At first, I thought I'd do this for a quarter and see where it goes," she said. "Now, I want to make this my commitment year round and create a sustainable program."
The goal is to ultimately expand to more schools while spreading awareness among Northwestern's athletic community. "I hope that the student-athletes can get a lot out of this program and share it with their teammates and coaches," Bast said.
ROARR likely would not be a reality without the help of Palchak, who Bast refers to as her "right-hand wing-woman." Palchak is responsible for contacting the schools and she is instrumental in getting them to adopt the program.
"She gave me the reins to lead this initiative, but I couldn't do anything I do without her," said Bast. "She is an integral piece to this large puzzle."
The goal is to keep ROARR running for years to come, but Bast will measure the program's success in a simple way. "If we can build awareness about bullying," she said, "then I will consider this program to be successful."
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