By Dalia Díaz
METHUEN, MA — After hearing the experiences of a close relative who was bullied because of a speech impediment, and while collecting research in pursuit of her PhD in Educational Psychology, Belen Goodwin was determined to study the effects of bullying and ways to prevent it.
The information she acquired on the processes that defuse academic progress in many school-age children inspired her to find a solution and she created Blueskies Wellness, Inc., a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization in 2006.
“Our vision is to assist children in achieving academic excellence free from the barriers imposed by school violence. This includes supporting and coaching every educational leader and staff member in being able to effectively facilitate a violence free school atmosphere,” Belen told me when I visited her store 180o Shoppe in Methuen.
The Shoppe sells gently used and new merchandise donated from all over the Merrimack Valley to raise funds for the organization. “We’re growing, and as we get to know more and more of our community we are excited to be a part of it and to be making a difference one child, family, school, and community at a time!” That growth requires counselors that work with several school systems in the area.
They also have a Blueskies Help Line: 1-888-336-1411 offering free and confidential help to kids and teens over the age of 13. It is intended to assist those who are victims of all forms of bullying and those who may be at-risk for suicide as a result of any form of bullying.
Here you can connect with trained volunteers who can help support you without judgments. “Our counselors have been specially trained to assist kids and teens who are feeling distressed as a result of being bullied and to respond to all requests for emotional support.”
The goal of Blueskies is to help reduce the stress caused as a result of being bullied and to empower them to make healthy decisions.