Bullying gets Giant enemy

ORANGE EARTH – A Blue Earth landmark is looking a bit different: the Green Giant statue is decked out in an orange toga to help take on bullying.

Unity Day was marked Wednesday morning with a program at the statue. It included local schoolchildren, Blue Earth Mayor Rick Scholtes, representatives from PACER Center and the Green Giant brand, all of whom hope the Raise A Giant campaign will inspire more people to take a stand against bullying.

Green Giant, owned by General Mills, has a history of providing nutritious food to children, but also wanted to do something for their emotional needs, said Melissa Wildermuth, a spokeswoman for Green Giant. Naturally, the company has a soft spot for the Jolly Green Giant, so it created the Raise A Giant campaign and chose Blue Earth to launch Unity Day.

“We like this [statue] because it was more of a 3-D representation of the Giant,” Wildermuth said.

She had some facts about the Giant’s wardrobe change:

o The orange toga, with a leaf pattern, is made from 100 percent recycled fabric from bottles and weighs 35 pounds.

o The statue will continue to wear the toga through next Wednesday, according to Brad Shaw of Eventrex Productions, which dressed the Giant in his new garb. Orange lights will illuminate the statue at night.

Scholtes said Blue Earth will take the name “Orange Earth” for the duration of the National Bullying Prevention Month campaign.

“Bullying has affected our great city of Orange Earth,” he said in a speech to the crowd, made up mostly of schoolchildren wearing orange t-shirts.

To combat it, Scholtes signed a large copy of “The Bullying Prevention Proclamation” during his speech. He hopes the campaign will help children and parents find the courage to stand up against bullying.

“That’s the big thing, is that it exists everywhere,” Scholtes said.

“When I look back to when I was in school, there was a lot of it,” he said. “With today’s social media, I can only imagine it’s worse. It’s there and we need to bring awareness to it.”

The reason:?it can have such long-lasting effects, says Julie Hertzog, PACER director of the National Bullying Prevention Center.

“We realize it affects kids’ emotional and physical health and not just in the short term,” she said.

“The best way to take away a bully’s power is for one person to stand up and say, ‘That’s not right,'” Hertzog said.

The anti-bullying campaign’s color is orange because it is the color of safety, and because it gets noticed, sparking conversations. That leads to discussions about bullying prevention.

Hertzog mentioned hearing one student say he wished the Giant would wear the orange toga year-round because it would remind people about bullying prevention all the time, not just for one month. Hertzog said that can still be accomplished, even after the toga comes down, when people “reflect back to their inner giant.”

“It’s an issue that affects so many people,” she said. “When communities come together, it sends a powerful message.”

Wildermuth said people can go online to raiseagiant.com for more information. Or visit pacer.org/bullying