- Sponsorship -

EGR Pioneers Support Be Nice through Hearts of Gold game

“Be Nice,” may not be the typical message coming from the stands as football players head to the field to face off against a rival school.

But it was Oct. 25 for the East Grand Rapids Pioneers as they battled Forest Hills Central High School. T-shirts, posters, banners and more shared the simple message: Be Nice.

The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan was the chosen recipient for the Pioneers’ annual Hearts of Gold fund-raising game. The foundation’s Be Nice campaign is seen at many area schools. It educates people about mental well-being, anti-bullying and the importance of treating each other with civility. Dozens of schoolshave started leadership groups, held assemblies or hosted workshops centered around Be Nice. The goal is to minimize and reduce the devastating effects of bullying, such as depression and suicide.

Christy Buck, executive director the Mental Heath Foundation of West Michigan, wears her East Grand Rapids shirt with the messages "Be Nice" and "Hearts of Gold"

‘Nice’ Football Players

“We wanted to keep our theme ‘playing for health and happiness’ and could not think of a better recipient than the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan,” said Natalie Bernecker, an East Grand Rapids parent involved with Hearts of Gold. “We want to raise awareness and funds to let people know that mental health matters and is important to the health and well-being of our students.”

Senior Peter Stewart, the football team’s quarterback, said Be Nice has had a positive impact on the high school. Sportsmanship, playing fair and working as a team are ways it translates to the field. “I believe Be Nice has changed the culture of our school,” he said, “It’s created a positive attitude, and everybody feels like they belong.”

Being nice has a huge impact on making a difference in people’s lives, said Christy Buck, executive director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. “Ultimately, how people treat each other has an effect on how people think, act and feel,” she said.

Showing Their Hearts

Hearts of Gold began in 2009 when the EGR football team wanted to make a difference after a former EGR student passed away from childhood cancer. The team decided to play a football game to benefit Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “It’s a different atmosphere than another game. You are playing for a bigger purpose,” said Connor Conoboy, a senior football player.

Coach Peter Stuursma started Hearts of Gold in 2009

Since 2009 more that $215,000 has been raised, Bernecker said. Lemonade stands, pop can returns, T-shirt and jerseys sales are some of the methods used, and the money helps fund assemblies and workshops. “The idea behind the fundraiser is that each person and child can make a difference,” Bernecker said.

CONNECT

The Mental Health Foundation

East Grand Rapids Public Schools

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

LATEST ARTICLES

This student leader aspires to inspire

His advice: seize all opportunities, reach out to others...

Plotting for a plot

Students’ hand-drawn maps are meant for the safekeeping of memories and to spur ideas for when they write personal narratives...

Students reopen fine-dining restaurant six months after closing its doors

GRCC’s The Heritage has reopened to the general public, with culinary students cooking, baking their way toward degrees...

‘We’re educators; we always make it work’

Kelly VanDyke’s roots in Kenowa Hills reach back to her days as a student teacher there in the Resource Room. Entering her eleventh school year as a special education teacher at Central Elementary, she is preparing for new students, safety protocols and classroom learning, reimagined...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Making the best of it

Students, parents, teachers and others share their feelings about the start of this unprecedented school year...

Here come the students; schools try to be ‘prepared for everything’

Area school districts have to be able to switch instruction plans if the pandemic fires up again, and be prepared for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak in one of their schools...

Ready or not, school year begins as leaders adopt plans to teach, protect students

With most of Kent County’s public school districts opening next week, superintendents talk about their plans to educate students while trying to keep them safe from an unpredictable virus...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS