Event planned in Columbus to spark anti-bullying conversations

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COLUMBUS, Ind. — A group of Columbus-area pastors is hoping to teach students a lesson on understanding this weekend.

The Columbus African American Pastors Alliance is putting on a program Saturday, Dec. 3 called “Race Relations in a Welcoming Community.”

The idea for the event spurred from hateful words and messages pastors heard during and even after the election.

Bishop Charles A. Sims, Pastor for Calvary Community Church, said he’s hoping teens can come have open and frank conversations about bullying they’ve experienced, how to handle the hurtful words, and how to prevent bullying in the future.

Sims cited one particular incident after the election where kids were taunted in a nearby elementary school.

“Some of the students began to chat toward the Latino students, ‘build that wall, build that wall,'” said Sims.

This week, the Southern Poverty Law Center confirmed 867 incidents of harassment and violence nationwide in the 10 days after Trump’s victory. 16 of those incidents were reported in Indiana.

From those hateful words, Sims is hoping for change. He’s encouraging students to tell parents, teachers, and mentors when they feel bullied and to not suffer in silence.

“That has to be the message an ongoing message that we  shall overcome. We shall overcome racism. We shall overcome sexism. We shall overcome all these negative things,” he said.

The event is on Dec. 3 from 2-4 p.m. at the Calvary Community Church, located at 1031 Chestnut St. in Columbus. Students in grades 6-12 are invited. There will be free pizza.