Nov. 7, 2013
MADISON, Wis. -- Few would pick on 7-foot Frank Kaminsky. The Badgers big-man towers over most and has for most of his life. When you’re a kid, however, being tall isn’t always an asset.
On a visit to Glacier Edge Elementary School on Nov. 1, Kaminsky shared that he was bullied for his height as a kid.
“It made me sad,” Kaminsky told the students. “But I had friends who supported me and it turns out being tall isn’t so bad.”
Teammates Duje Dukan, George Marshall and Aaron Moesch joined Kaminsky in sharing personal anecdotes and persuading their young audience to treat others with respect.
“Having the opportunity to reach out to kids about the topic of bullying is important to us,” Dukan said. “We all see that it is a significant problem in the life of kids and adolescents, so we wanted to help in any way possible.”
The visit was the first of several UW student-athletes will make during the 2013-14 academic year to spread the word against bullying. Student-athletes have selected bullying as their “championed cause” for the year and will tackle the issue with the support of the athletic department.
School visits, anti-bullying drives at UW athletics events and public service announcements are all components of the Badgers’ campaign to tackle bullying in Madison schools.
“It’s affected each of us in different ways, either being bullied ourselves or witnessing the effect that it’s had on family members or friends,” said Katie Delaney, a swimmer who is also a member of UW’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. “Many students view us as the ‘cool kids.’ We want to use that to empower students to stand up for others so that everyone is included and everyone feels important.”
The initiative is part of the continued growth of UW Athletics’ Badgers Give Back program, which debuted in September 2012. Moving into its second year, the department is focusing its charitable efforts around four core areas: Education, Mentorship, Helping Hand and Health & Wellness.
In addition, UW student-athletes will each year select a cause area that will serve as the “championed cause” for the year. UW Athletics’ will focus extra marketing efforts and attention on this area.
“In the first year of the program we appeared at more than 150 events in support of worthy causes but, moving forward, we wanted to focus our time and resources on the areas we are most passionate about and deepen our impact in those areas,” said UW community relations coordinator Kayla Gross. “These cause areas best align the resources we have to offer with the needs of the community.”
Teachers looking to get involved with UW Athletics’ anti-bullying initiative should email Kayla Gross at email@example.com.