Sunday May 22 2016
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Parents Create PRIDE in Youth Sports

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When it comes to school-aged kids, one of the most prevalent issues today is bullying. For Pennsylvania’s Carmelina Vargo, the issue hit home to the point that she took action.

Vargo, a mother of two, began to document instances of bullying in her area, and over time other parents also shared their stories with her, and PRIDE was born.

PRIDE, which stands for Protect, Respect, positive Influence, Develop fundamentals and Encourage teamwork, is a non-profit organization that targets bullying in youth sports and after school activities. According to Vargo, PRIDE’s goal is to “increase awareness of and reduce parent and peer bullying in youth sports.”

The organization is gaining members all the time, male and female, from Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties.

“We teach children not be afraid to speak up and stand up for themselves and other children when they are being bullied,” Vargo said. “We should not ask any less from adults.”

Vargo, the President of PRIDE, is joined in her efforts by Barbara Darby, RN, who is the vice-president; secretary Priscilla Bromley; and Susan Martinez, who serves as treasurer. The group also has the support of many professionals, including James Bozigar, the Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3 Safe Schools Coordinator.

The support PRIDE has received from parents and the professionals is something Vargo truly appreciates.

“The support wasn’t great before because it’s hard to get support of a community that are afraid to speak up and fear any repercussions,” Vargo said. “That was a little difficult, but that wasn’t going to change my drive to do the right thing. It was very overwhelming, the support I got from other parents, the way we supported each other and the stories that were shared.”

PRIDE has been a gratifying process for Vargo, and when she reflects on the progress so far, she is pleased with what she sees.

“You hear from parents that it’s about time that you have a group of parents who don’t believe this should be the norm,” Vargo said about bullying that exists at schools and in youth sports. “There is so much support and it is so appreciated that someone can say what’s going on with these children is not what it should be about in youth sports. It should be about fun, protecting them, respecting them, influencing them in a positive way, developing fundamentals and encouraging teamwork.”

Something we can all take pride in.