By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/30/13
Michele DeJuliis believes, as a lacrosse leader, she can do more than run tournaments and expose her older players to college recruiters.
DeJuliis, owner of Ultimate Lacrosse and Ultimate Events, is thrilled with the impact of her newest tournament, Project 120, which launched this weekend at Westtown School. The event, which began Friday and closes today, features 120 teams (from 2014 to 2020) and is providing educational workshops on leadership and positive decision-making by a non-profit organization called “Find the Courage.”
“Find the Courage” provides programs that educate and inspire people to make a positive impact by teaching strategies to help people to become “leaders that promote kindness, inclusion, encouragement, compassion and respect.” Sinply put, it’s an anti-bullying program that goes well beyond the term “anti-bullying” because it addresses all areas of treating others.
“The main point is to educate kids, along with playing,” said DeJuulis, an assistant coach for the US women’s National team that is gearing to play in the World Cup next month in Oshawa, Canada. “We just want to make a difference, and we can do that in two different ways.”
Find the Courage is run by Molly Creamer and Erin Rewalt, two former college athletes who company became an official non-profit in December, 2012. They provide interactive workshops to schools and organizations and during the tourney gave their workshops in 30-minute segments to all the players and adults involved.
DeJuliis said some of the proceeds of the tourney go to Finding the Courage. She also wants to raise awareness for the organization and its goals. Then, each year, the tourney will feature a new charity or non-profit as its focus.
“When they (Creamer and Rewalt) told me about it, I felt it was exactly what these kids need,” said DeJuliis. “It’s an opportunity to learn how to be kind each.
“Sometimes you have kids that say, ‘Hey don’t do that.’ But not a lot are OK with speaking up, especially around peers. They are trying to make kindness cool. They’re amazing because they are so energetic and kids really enjoy it.”
DeJuliis noted that kids can be mean to each other and no one realizes how to identify the behavior as mean.
“The feedback on the program is awesome,” she said. “Sometimes kids don’t even know bullying is happening because there are so many aspects to it. People are thinking, ‘Oh, it’s kids being kids. Kids are not always nice to each other.
“Because they are athletes, the kids can relate to them. All the kids have responded well.”
Creamer said the key is giving the kids a fun stage to learn new skills.
“We are providing a platform to help them make positive decisions in treating people,” she said. “I think it helps us that they are athletes and we are athletes.”
High school aged teams from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio and Rhode Island are competing. Youth teams from Minnesota also competed.