ST. GEORGE, Utah — Coming together for a common goal, student athletes at middle and intermediate schools throughout southern Utah are working together to put a stop to bullying in and out of the classroom.
The Student Athletes Against Bullying organization is a group of athletes from the Utah Highlanders organization and is made up of student athletes from Desert Hills, Pine View, Cedar City, Canyon View and Hurricane middle schools.
Bear Alo, the Utah Highlanders student adviser, is one of the organizers behind SAAB. He spends his time encouraging the students to use the leadership and social skills they learn in their respective sports to better their school environment.
"We want to teach them to use what they learn from their sport," he said. "SAAB is about empowering athletes to reach out against bullying."
Each of the schools' SAAB members meet regularly to discuss bullying in their schools and what they can do to help stop it, Alo said.
"We want them to become a hero against bullying with a non-traditional approach," he said.
The idea is to encourage the students to keep an eye out for students who might become likely targets of bullying or are being bullied and to make friends with them, Alo said.
"A lot of other students look up to (the student athletes) and so we have exercises that involve role playing so they can see how to help in certain situations," he said.
Tyler Warner, an eighth-grade student and football player at Desert Hills Middle School, said he enjoys being part of a team and works to be proactive against bullying in schools.
"I wanted to be part of a team because I wanted to have that brotherhood," he said. "I have been a victim of bullying before and I wanted to do my part to stop it."
Like Warner, Noah Schone, an eighth-grade student and golf team member and basketball player from Pine View Middle School, is also no stranger to being a victim of bullying.
At a summer camp, Schone was bullied to the point that the matter was reported to law enforcement and ended up in the court system, he said.