Programs aimed at Hempfield athletes to focus on respect, female leadership |

Programs aimed at Hempfield athletes to focus on respect, female leadership

Megan Tomasic

Empowering female leadership and teaching respect toward women and girls are just two themes at the head of new programs aimed at student athletes in Hempfield.

Part of Blackburn Center’s Coaching Boys into Men and Coaching Female Athletes programs, students in grades seven through 12 will work through provided curriculum each week with their coaches to help build respect for other athletes and students.

Coaching Boys into Men was founded in 2001 by Futures Without Violence, a non-profit aimed at ending violence against women and children, and Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. The goal of the program is to teach male athletes personal responsibility, respectful behavior and about relationship abuse through scenarios, strategies and resources.

“It’s basically proper treatment toward women,” said Greg Meisner, Hempfield athletic director, who added that the program addresses insulting language, violence toward women, respect on social media, understanding consent, communication and boundaries.

“Being a role model for respect among your fellow teammates — that’s a big thing for Coaching Boys into Men,” he said.

According to the Blackburn Center, students who previously participated in the program were more likely to get others involved and intervene when witnessing abusive or disrespectful behavior among peers. The center also reported that one in three teenagers report knowing a friend or peer was physically hurt by their partner.

So far, more than 100 coaches and 500 athletes have been trained through the program, which is now being used to create a college level program, according to the Pittsburgh Action Against Rape website.

For girl’s teams, Coaching Female Athletes focuses on leadership, positive body image, self esteem, female competition and women’s roles in sports.

At the end of the year, officials from the Blackburn Center, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh will meet with students to conduct a survey. According to the Blackburn Center, officials focus on athletes because they are often leaders in the school who have positive relationships with coaches. Coaches, in turn, hold influential roles in student’s lives.

Cassie Ellson, community education coordinator with Blackburn Center, said Jeannette and Greensburg Salem school districts also have expressed interest in the programs.

Hempfield Area school board officials approved the programs unanimously during Monday’s workshop. Meisner said it will start with the fall sports a few weeks into the school year.

He added the program was first taught in Hempfield middle schools in 2013.

“It was a positive thing,” Meisner said. “The coaches spent a couple times a week for 10 to 15 minutes (on the program),” adding that students were attentive and asked questions. “I think it’s neat that they’re doing this now at the high school level.”

Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Westmoreland
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