Central Indiana Students Learn About Education, Health and Fitness and Bullying

By Katy Watson | May 15, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS - The environment was fun-filled, but the message serious as nearly 2,000 Central Indiana students gathered before the Indiana’s Fever preseason game versus San Antonio to talk about education, health and fitness and bullying. The “Choices for Champions” event exemplified three principles that the Fever endorse: a strong education, healthy and fit individuals, and bully prevention.

Local Fisher’s High School sophomore, Olivia Rusk, who is both a motivational speaker and on-air personality for RadioDisney emceed the event. Diagnosed with alopecia, which causes a person to lose his or her hair, Rusk has a passion for preventing bullying and helping others to fully accept themselves.

The morning event tipped off with several speakers including Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Danielle Shockey, Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Ryan Mears, Reach for Youth Inc. representative Mara Weiss and appearances by Pacers mascot Boomer and Fever players Tamika Catchings, Jeannette Pohlen and Layshia Clarendon.

Shockey began the event by talking with students about the importance of reading. She challenged each student to help create “a culture of reading” by committing to reading for 20 minutes each day. To help with their reading goals, each student was also given the task of finding three individuals who could be a part of their “family of reading.”

Next, the focus moved to bullying as Mears and then Weiss took the stage. Both speakers were very interactive as they asked students “what is bullying?” and “how do you stop bullying?” Mears spoke heavily on the fact that bullying is crime and just as an individual can get in trouble at school for doing the wrong thing, so can a person with the law. Weiss then went on to further Mears’ remarks by saying that bullying can be as simple as calling someone “stupid.” She also got students involved as they acted as bullies to Freddy Fever. With each hurtful remark they made a small tear on a piece of paper attached to the mascot. Despite their attempts to tape Freddy back together the remnants of the tears remained. This reinforced with the students the idea that what we say and do can reach deeper and be more hurtful than we realize.

Finally, Catchings, Pohlen and Clarendon took center stage as they answered questions and told personal accounts about education, health and fitness and bullying. Pohlen mentioned that it is important to set goals because it gets you to where you want to be. Catchings cited that education is crucial to whatever is next in life. A goal she has is to become a general manager for a basketball team. In order to reach that goal, she knew furthering her own education was imperative and therefore earned her master’s degree. Clarendon spoke on accepting everyone. She said to focus on similarities rather than what makes a person different. All three agreed that eating right and being active helps a person feel better. They all endorsed a “rainbow diet,” which means adding lots of colorful fruits and vegetables to each meal.

In between segments Boomer showed off his fitness skills by performing a dunk show and two students also participated in a Fever Fitness Challenge, where they had to bike the length of the court, perform 10 sit-ups, 10 jump ropes, and end with a made basket.

Afterwards the students were then treated to lunch and game as they watched the Fever play the San Antonio Silver Stars.