One of programs Downing offers is the No Place For Hate (NPFH) program. According to Mrs. Melton, a counselor serving 6th and 7th grade students at Downing, “No Place For Hate is a national campaign formed by the Anti-Defamation League to promote tolerance among all students and teachers. No Place For Hate has become Downing’s vehicle anti bullying program.”
Among the NPFH counseling activities to promote anti bullying in the classroom is the Mix It Up Lunch program. This national campaign, orchestrated by Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries, according to the Teaching Tolerance website. Downing has participated in the Mix It Up Lunch program for 6 years in a row and has been named as a Mix It Up Model School by the Mix It Up Lunch National Office.
Every year the Downing Counseling Department designs a new aspect of the NPFH program. This year they implemented the Warm Fuzzy Campaign to notice and recognize students who have helped a fellow classmate when they’re having a negative interaction from someone else — they step in and act as a courageous bystander. “When we see or hear of that, we want to recognize that student’s effort by giving them a Warm Fuzzy,” said Mrs. Melton.
Students in the No Place For Hate Club keep the Warm Fuzzy critters in their backpacks and teachers hide them in their desks, prepared to hand these little goo-goo eyed furry creatures to deserving students.
The Downing PTA provided the NPFH organization a grant to purchase materials to make the Warm Fuzzy awards, a grant for which Mrs. Melton is extremely grateful to have received.
The No Place For Hate student group hopes to visit their feeder elementary schools in order to talk to younger students about kindness as part of an outreach program designed by the students. In order to pay for the buses to travel to the elementary schools, the NPFH group is making paracord jump bracelets.
Another outstanding program Downing offers is called Finding Kind. The purpose of Finding Kind is to promote friendship and kindness amongst girls. Mrs. Melton states, “research shows unfortunately, that girl on girl bullying is very pervasive and very hurtful and can have a long lasting impact on young ladies, so we want to recognize that and work on that for their sake by teaching them and showing them how to be allies.”
In partnership with Marcus High School’s Friends of Rachel Campaign, Downing’s Finding Kind organization now has the Big Sis and Lil Sis outreach program. The Marcus “Big Sis’” mentors reach out to Downing “Lil Sis’” students.
In addition to NPFH, the Mix It Up Lunch, and the Big Sis program, Downing offers more unique counseling services to their students. Mrs. Melton said, “Downing’s counseling program is a very robust program. We like to reach students in many, many ways.”
Downing offers many counseling groups, support groups, and character building educational programs including: emotional management, substance abuse prevention, organizational strategies, and dating violence prevention. These programs are supported through the Lewisville ISD Secondary Counseling Education program called Second Step. The curriculum supports the new State of Texas legislation mandates by the State of Texas which decrees that schools must have a proactive bully prevention program and a systematic means of reporting counseling services provided to the students in addition to providing educational services regarding suicide prevention, sexting, bullying, dating violence, and cyber bullying.
With these outstanding programs designed to promote personal growth and character education, the Downing Counseling Department will continue to exemplify the importance of counselors in area schools and the care they impart on the children they serve.