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KMS students study 'bullying' for project

Kadena Air Base, Japan -- Kadena Middle School seventh- graders are making a difference in their school and reaching the community about an increasing problem -- bullying.
Through the kids' research, they found that much of the violence in schools begins with bullying. Some seventh-graders like Chris Martinson of Kadena Middle School put together a team to represent Kadena in the E-Cyber Mission Program.
Through this interactive Web site, the Violence In School Awareness -- or "VISA" Squad has worked for months informing their military community about bullying. If their team wins the worldwide competition for their "mission" to deter bullying, the kids will win $8,000 in savings bonds.
"I'm pretty excited," said Chris. "I think we have a chance to win the regional competition (Pacific-wide) and maybe even nationals (worldwide)."
The team wrote an article and organized and starred in a commercial on the American Forces Network-Okinawa television station.
"I've heard from friends, church members, and co-workers who have seen the commercial and they think it's really making a difference in the community and has the right message," said Capt. Curlen Martinson, 18th Medical Operations Squadron and one the VISA Squad's team advisers.
"And I've seen less tripping in our school hallways since our commercial too. So that's good," added Chris.
The team uploaded everything they did including interviews, research papers and videos to the E-Cyber Mission Web site, a program run by the Army for a chance to win savings bonds for college. Now they sit and wait for the results.
"Actually, I'm OK with the waiting," laughs Captain Martinson. "I think seeing the kids after they've completed the commercial and their project and getting everything turned in before the deadline was a huge accomplishment."
If their efforts don't come through winning the $8,000 in savings bonds, the team has made a difference and changed the way they think about bullying in school.
"I used to join in and laugh, but now I'm trying not to do that as much and stop others from bullying," said Chris.
It's helping. Just to be able to stand up to a bully and say, 'That's not right' makes a big difference and can stop the behavior."
Solving real issues in their community is the focus of the program -- one team and community at a time.