From November 7th to the 9th, the 16 annual International Bullying Prevention Conference took place in Chicago, IL at the Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. Over 500 attendees came from all over the world to learn from one another and share strategies in the field, all in support our the IBPA’s mission to engage the global community in bullying prevention and intervention. The conference began on Thursday with the pre-conference sessions, “Bullying Prevention Best Practices” and “Evidence Based bullying Prevention Programs Showcase.” In addition to the pre-conference sessions, there were also over 20 poster sessions that were being presented, and a student leadership lab, sponsored by InspirED In this lab, student/teacher teams were empowered to change the way that they feel in school every day. Through the facilitation of Julie McGarry and Jessica Hoffmann, these student-led, high school teams learned the inspirED process. They assessed their school climate, they brainstormed ideas to improve it, they committed to a plan, and more. The first day of the conference ended with a Gaming Panel, and a Social Media Panel, featuring experts in the field from Two Hat Security, Roblox, Twitch, Microsoft, Instagram, and Google.
On Friday, the conference began with an inspiring keynote address from Dr. Jeanette Betancourt of Sesame Street in Communities (SSIC). Dr. Betancourt shared how SSIC remains at the forefront of identifying the most significant issues making an impact on young children today, including family homelessness, foster care, and addiction. With the help of the beloved Muppets, SSIC connects and empowers grownups like parents, caregivers, and teachers to build “circles of care” to help children – especially the most vulnerable – get off to a strong a healthy start.
With over 40 workshops to choose from, the attendee’s schedules were able to stay busy all weekend. During the time between sessions, attendees were able to visit the grounding room, which was an interactive way to explore the senses and learn methods to cope with anxiety attacks. They were also able to take part in our first ever silent auction. With various items donated to us from businesses and individuals, we were able to raise over $1000 to help continue the IBPA’s mission.
The last day of the conference began with a keynote from Maya Enista Smith, who is the Executive Director at Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. In her address, she said, “We believe that it’s not enough to just talk about kindness…we must pair it with an action without an expectation. Kindness has no boundaries or limitations, kindness is an act of self-care, and kindness is essential to mental health.” We also heard from Jasmine Babers, Founder and Creative Director of Love Girls Magazine. She believes that the “impact of self-esteem is wildly underestimated.” She reminds us that “you can only achieve what you can see yourself doing…if you can’t visualize it, you can’t achieve it.” Her magazine lets girls know that they are good enough just the way they are, and so are their stories. And finally, that “your voice is the most powerful thing you have to offer. At the end of her keynote, Jasmine received a standing ovation from the crowd.