BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Alabama Network of Children's Advocacy Centers (ANCAC) and the Verizon Foundation are introducing "Taking It 2 Far" in two Birmingham area middle schools Tuesday, April 24. "Taking It 2 Far" is a pilot program aimed at teaching eighth graders how to use smartphones and social networks responsibly as their access to technology continues to increase.
"Young people today are constantly connected through their phones and their Facebook accounts," said Debbie Land, Director of the Clay House Children's Center in Bessemer and ANCAC's coordinator for the "Taking It 2 Far" program. "Our centers around the state regularly see young teens and even grade school students who have either been victimized through online or text harassment or who are facing legal consequences for sending explicit images or texts. We wanted to find a way to help children embrace technology but avoid misuse and abuse, and 'Taking It 2 Far' does exactly that."
The initiative was funded through a $24,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation and covers topics such sexting, cyber bulling and textual harassment with a focus on helping young teens recognize when they have crossed the line. "Taking It 2 Far" will kick off with a presentation from Richard Guerry, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Online and Cell-Phone Communication, and a national expert on these issues. In the weeks following Guerry's kick-off presentation, ANCAC will bring local experts into the schools for follow-up discussions around the legal consequences of digital misuse, cyber bullying and healthy online relationships.
Jonathan LeCompte, president – Georgia/Alabama Region, Verizon Wireless said: "The Verizon team worked closely with ANCAC on the development of 'Taking It 2 Far.' While we develop and offer the latest technologies, we are against the abuse of it. Digital connectivity is a part of life for young people today and it can be an amazing tool for schools and educators to enhance student achievement. We just need to start early teaching young people how to use technology responsibly."
The idea for the program originated from a Leadership Birmingham Class of 2010 study group project, and members of the group approached ANCAC with the idea. Land said if the pilot initiative is successful, ANCAC will consider taking the program to additional schools around the state this fall using online and printed materials created for the pilot.
"Taking It 2 Far" includes a website (takingit2far.com) and foldable locker/classroom poster to serve as a reminder to students and influencers. At the website, students can watch videos that demonstrate real-life digital scenarios that cross the line and even share their own experience with digital abuse and connect with a local counselor if requested. The website also provides parents, teachers and counselors links to the best resources available for teaching digital responsibility.
The Verizon Foundation helps people to live healthy, safe and independent lives by addressing disparities in education, health care and sustainability. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon's employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.2 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.
The Alabama Network of Children's Advocacy Centers, Inc. (ANCAC or The Network) is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote the multi-disciplinary process in fostering an abuse-free society for Alabama's children and support the development of the children's advocacy center model through public awareness, training and collaborative partnerships. For more information, visit www.alabamacacs.org.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with nearly 108 million total connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company with $111 billion in 2011 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 194,000. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.
SOURCE Verizon Foundation