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“When we stand together
No one stands alone.”

The Unity Awards

The Unity Awards are presented by:
The Faces of Change — The Youth Advisory Boards of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center

The Unity Awards ceremony, first held in 2015, is an evening of celebration to gather and recognize those who have made a positive impact by addressing and preventing bullying — whether it’s building awareness of bullying prevention, inspiring and empowering others to take positive action, or advocating for those who need support.

Nominations come in from around the country and have included teachers who have touched the lives of students, individuals or groups who have been active in their communities, and those who simply made someone feel that they were not alone.

The 2017 Unity Awards will be held in Thursday, May 25th at the Bloomington Civic Plaza in Bloomington, Minn., and includes light refreshments, social time, and entertainment.

Everyone is welcome to nominate an individual or a group for this year’s national awards:

  • Together Against Bullying
  • United for Kindness
  • United for Acceptance
  • United for Inclusion

Additionally, The Faces of Change Awards are presented to individuals or groups making a difference in Minnesota, where PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center is located, and in the Los Angeles area, where NBPC maintains an office.

Past nominations include:

Leah Fuda, Halle West, and Alexis Zara – Students from York, South Carolina

“Three students from our high school DECA organization took the lead to bring attention to bullying prevention in our community! They planned, organized and carried out a ‘Bigger than Bullying’ 5K run in November as a part of our school district kick-off for bullying prevention. More than 150 participants from our small, rural community came together to support this effort! This very successful 5K brought attention to the issue of bullying, but also was a way to bring together community businesses who were sponsors, parents and students who were participants, along with others who now are aware of the bullying prevention program in our school district.

Starting from ‘scratch,’ these students began planning in early September to make this event happen. There was a long list of things to consider: PR, registration, setting entrance fees, ordering wristbands and t-shirts for participants, securing sponsors and other prizes. All of this in addition to finding a location and learning how to conduct a 5K including timing, signs, setting a course, water and snacks at the finish plus a thousand other little details! It was impressive to watch the planning progress and very rewarding to see the event come together — even on a very cold November morning!

At the conclusion of the 5K, the proceeds were donated to the school district’s bullying prevention program in a special presentation at the December School Board meeting. These funds were used to purchase materials in support of the bullying prevention program at York Middle School and York One Academy. These three students learned so much from planning the 5K, but also highlighted the importance of bullying prevention to everyone in our community.”

—Nominated by Sue Hilton

Abby Belcher – Student from Rowlett, Texas

“Abby created ‘Abby’s Pledge’ when she was just 9 years old, after her sister who has Asperger’s was bullied ruthlessly by school cheerleaders. This is a pledge that she created to help encourage other people to stand up against bullying. Abby travels across the country to share her story with others and to show that no matter how young a person is, they can make a real difference. She attends training sessions that are usually reserved for social workers, police officers and counselors just so she can learn different ways to help others to stand up against bullying. (It was at one if these events that I met her.) Thousands of people across the country have taken her pledge and she has volunteer supporters (including me) across the country who help spread her message to stand up against hate. She has created a website that people can go on which houses resources parents can use to get help from other sources, and she also helps to give kids the tools and provides lifeline numbers if they are depressed. Abby came to talk to our group about bullying and we took her pledge. Abby consistently puts others before herself. She is even working on a new bill that she hopes to present to congress this year. Abby also created a campaign called the ‘Be Brave Backpack’ drive for which she distributes new backpacks filled with school supplies to kids living in domestic violence or homeless shelters so they don’t have to go to school and get bullied by others because they lack supplies. She also created the ‘Brave the Elements’ hats, gloves and sandwich drive which she went out and fed the homeless in places most would not dare to travel. She mows other people’s grass, pulls weeds and does chores in the community to help raise money for her cause. She is humble and an inspiration to all. And, she also became a school cheerleader to help break the stereotypes that cheerleaders are mean. But most of all, she is living her pledge to ‘Notice and take action’ daily, proving that no matter what the circumstance, anyone can make a real difference in their community.”

—Nominated by Donna Smith

“Abby is a young lady I met when we started our Anti-Bullying crusade. Knowing her and seeing her passion about bullying prevention motivated me to push our campaign even harder. She motivates all she comes in contact with, and she doesn’t take bullying lightly. Abby founded her own organization and travels with her own money to talk about bullying. This young lady is REMARKABLE! She speaks with a passion and continues her fight against bullying.”

—Nominated by Jeanette Greenwood

Mindy Murtley – Community member from Barnum, Minnesota

“My wife works full time as a RN and during her off time, evenings and weekends, she and another lady have been working continuously to start a local non-profit organization called Buddies not Bullies Inc. She has reached out to the school districts, the local mayors and the community to provide support, education and resources to the citizens and communities. She is devoted to making a difference. As a full time nurse, she never stops working. She is bringing a walk/5K run to the Duluth area. The support she has received is amazing from schools willing to work alongside her. I believe her tireless efforts sometimes may go unnoticed, however I notice and what she has taken on is amazing. Our community was lacking this in our area, and she has come forth to make a difference for everyone.”

—Nominated by Scott Murtley

Girl Scout Troop 4073 – Girl Scout Troop from Duluth, Minnesota

“The Girl Scout troop at Piedmont Elementary School worked with the school to start a Unity Day event in 2014. The troop and other students made signs for ‘Wear Orange for Unity Day’ and ‘Be a Buddy, Not a Bully.’ A brownie who is on the autism spectrum designed a patch for the scouts and orange tee shirts for the troop and some teachers. The troop will be in that school for 2 more years and hopes to build the event every year.”

—Nominated by Loretta Ronding

Notes of Kindness Crew: Students from Rochester, MN

Addison, Ava, Jordyn, Teagan, and Nora, students at John Adams Middle School, wanted to brighten everyone’s day by spreading messages of hope and encouragement. Together, these 6th grade girls cut out a ton of shapes, using post-it notes, and wrote kind things on them. They then stuck 1400 notes on every student’s locker. It took the girls over two weeks to hand write and shape the notes, with messages such as “Smile, it looks good on you” and “You are amazing in so many ways.”

Orono High School Unified Club: School Group from Orono, MN

The Orono High School Unified Club is comprised of students with and without disabilities with a goal of fostering inclusion in their school. This club started a few years ago and has grown significantly due to the student leadership. They are truly instilling inclusion in their school through other programs such as social opportunities, academic mentoring, fundraising efforts, speaking engagements, and bullying prevention campaigns like the 'Spread the Word to End the Word' campaign.

Lakeview Elementary Kindness Council: School Group from Lakeville, MN

The Lakeview Elementary Kindness Council is made up of 25 fifth grade students who, under the direction and guidance of their school counselor, commit to spreading kindness across their school and the community. The Kindness Council organizes and implements a variety of activities throughout the school year to promote kindness toward others. These young people are an amazing example of how simple acts of kindness can change the climate of a school and improve learning for all!

The TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More): School Group from Slayton, MN

This group of students in grades 7 – 12th was originally formed a bullying prevention task force. They decided on the name TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) because they wanted to take a positive and proactive approach to preventing bullying. Each year they have organized "Kindness Week" in March. They put affirmation post-it notes on the lockers of every student and the doors of every staff. They did classroom presentation for all grade K-12. They basically got our whole community involved in focusing on kindness.

Alexis Saldana

I would like to nominate Alexis Saldana for this or really any of the awards you offer. As this school year began Alexis was campaigning for the office of 8th grade President and she herself experienced bullying from others. Other students bullied her as they were wanting another candidate instead of her to win. This was something she had never encountered before and really was upset by the behavior of others. Instead of backing out, or ignoring it, Alexis faced the situation head on. Her speech for office included her experience and a plan for improvement. She won the election which shows most students do not agree with bullying behavior. Afterward Alexis put the experience behind her and has continued to work all year building a school environment that accepts all, includes all, and looks within each individually for what they can do.

- Nominated by Jon Carlton

Patricia Mastropolo

I feel like this particular individual qualifies for this award mainly because in the beginning of this school year I was really scared and shy but she helped break out of my "shell". She made me feel like I belonged and helped me with my bullying situation. In light of that, I feel that if I hadn't have told her I wouldn't have told anyone. I knew that if I told her the student bullying me would probably get mad and I didn't want that. But I knew it had to stop. She actually made him stop and he wasn't mad because she explained to him what he was doing was wrong. Now I can go to school comfortably and with ease because of her. She is the nicest person I know and she deserves recognition for all the kindness she has given.

- Nominated by a student

Meredith Warren

Meredith Warren took someone being severely bullied and spent hours daily helping her get to where she is today, through video chat, texting, and even dropping everything just to see her. She looked beyond her disability and flaws and gave her something that she hasn't seen before - confidence. She is a wonderful person and has helped countless others with whatever it is that they need. She deserves this award.

- Nominated by another student

Lockhart Elementary School

The Lockhart School’s Primary School's Primary Explorers, Artists and Future Architects Recess Club is comprised of approximately 35-50 students who have taken a stand to forego taking part in all forms of negative behavior, and spend their free time "creating things of beauty”. The Lockhart School's Performing Artists In Action Club, is a social action group made up of 10 students from grades 2nd-4th who use singing, dance, chanting, skits and poetry to empower their peers and the other students at our school to turn away from bullying during recess time. I nominate this club, because students come together to enforce the virtues and citizen character skills of Kindness, Respect, Cooperation, Diversity, Compassion and Unity.

- Nominated by JoAnne Saunders

Unity Day Awards 2016

Patricia Mastropolo - "United for Kindness" Award

Meredith Warren - "United for Acceptance" Award

Lockhart Elementary School – “United for Inclusion” Award