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      Eastern Elementary Students Say Bullying Backfires

      This week is Bullying Awareness Week and a group of local students are working hard to help promote tolerance. A select group of fourth and fifth graders at Eastern Elementary School in Traverse City created their own PSAs to bring awareness to the issue of bullying with the tagline: Bullying Backfires!

      This is the second year that Eastern Elementary School has worked with the United Way on the Heroes Program, which is an opportunity for students to learn about a cause they want to support. This year, students chose between three categories: diversity, building character and making healthy choices. Jennifer Dutmers is a parent volunteer who helps coordinate the Heroes program. "Everybody has their own passion and we want to give the kids a chance to choose something they're excited about," Dutmers says.

      The students put together the PSAs from beginning to end. They wrote the scripts, picked the music and acted in them. They took their responsibility as leaders very seriously. "If we do things that are wrong as fifth graders, then the younger kids who look up to us will keep doing things wrong," said fifth grader Mari Mast, who participated in the PSAs.

      For some of the students involved in the project, it was very personal. Fourth grader Jake Spann was bullied as a younger student. He spoke up and took care of his problems and he hopes other students will be able to do the same after watching these PSAs. "I just didn't want other kids to have to go through stuff like I did, so it's really an important project for me," Spann said.

      The students are entering their PSAs into the Meijer Great Choices Kids Film Festival. The PSAs will be loaded onto the content website where you can vote for your favorite starting in April. The winning PSA will receive a classroom grant.

      You can watch some of the PSAs here:

      - Bullying Backfires

      - Everybody Has a Voice

      - It Isn't Big to Make Others Feel Small