Project Elevate - Putting An End To Bullying In Oklahoma Schools
The atmosphere inside the Yukon High School gymnasium is light. A group of four young men dance and put on skits at center court while the sophomore class laughs along with them.
Darnell Warren takes the microphone and approaches the crowd.
"How many of you guys have ever been bullied?" he asks. Lots of students raise their hand.
These are the men of Project Elevate. A fearsome foursome not afraid to make fools of themselves in order to spread their life-saving message to rise above bullying.
Craig Corbitt says the dancing and the skits help break the ice.
"It really breaks down some things to them, they go wow, you know what, we'll listen to what they have to say."
By mixing hit songs with hot moves, Project Elevate builds steam. It doesn't take long for some of the students to join the group and dance in front of their friends.
"We're just trying to get our word out there," Corbitt says. "To let them know that there's someone who's wanting to help."
All four members have been effected by bullying. But one of them knows first hand how it can devastate a family.
JoJo McNeal's message appears on the Project Elevate Facebook page.
"On September 4th, 2009, my youngest brother committed suicide because of things people were saying to him," he says in a black and white video presented during the assembly. A hush falls over the crowd as the video continues.
Bullying is a reality Project Elevate hopes to end.
"What we're seeing is a lot of students are dealing with the problem of being bullied and they feel like they have no way out," says Warren. "The problem is when they get boxed in they feel like the only thing they can do is take their life."
Project Elevate's message is so well received, one student opens his heart to admit that sometimes he takes teasing too far. Moments later, he's down on the court dancing while the crowd laughs.
Shariah Anderson is a sophomore who says the assembly and the message is something she won't forget.
"To not be the bully or the victim and to tell someone if you're getting bullied or anything like that," she says.
Melissa Barlow is the Principal at Yukon High School. She says she decided to bring Project Elevate to her school because the message is needed and the format is something her students enjoy.
"It's not somebody coming to lecture them. It's an innovate way to meet the kids at their level," she says.
Project Elevate has a lofty goal: visit 150 Oklahoma schools in the next four years. But with energy this fearsome foursome possess, there will be no stopping them.
"We're going to change the school system in Oklahoma," Corbitt says. "We're going to throw all of our chips in, and go as hard and as quick as we can."
If you would more information on Project Elevate, you can contact Craig Corbitt at 405-370-3053 or Darnell Warren at 405-535-0988.