I feel that a big thumbs-up is owed to Jaki Ulman, who in partnership with StandUp Hoco has begun a new grassroots project called the "Hoco Blue Pinky Project."

The effort is designed to raise awareness of bullying, particularly among young girls. Participation, though, is open to everyone, and simply requires individuals to paint their pinky blue and make a "pinky promise" to stand up to bullying.

Several groups have already joined in, including Kevin Spurrier's 12-year-old baseball team that plays in the Howard County Youth Program. Spurrier recently took his players to the Glenelg Country School gym for an indoor practice, where they took the pledge.

Most people probably do not realize the extent of bullying in our school system or, for that matter, in our country. As I understand it, girls traditionally are the main target of bullies, who apparently get strength by attacking others and seeing them suffer. Boys also are bullied, but not at the same levels as girls which is why the Blue Pinky Project is focusing on females.


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That's not to say, though, that it is not still important to get boys, particularly at that age, to say, "we have had enough of bullying and we are taking the pledge to stop it."

It is one thing to take a pledge, however, and another thing to actually do something about it when you see it or know that it is happening.

I'm sure that when kids saw Spurrier's boys with their fingers painted blue, they may have laughed due to not knowing the significance. My hope, though, is that after being told what the blue represents, that laughter went away.

It is past time that we eliminate this threat against kids once and for all. Bullying has to be stamped out now, not tomorrow.

A number of focus groups have been held and will continue to be held at various community centers to get parents and their children informed about this anti-bullying campaign. It is especially important for parents to understand that bullying comes in a number of different forms. Sometimes simply chatting on a computer can be just as harmful as the in-person or over-the-phone bullying.

Let's face it, most bullies are actually cowards that enjoy watching someone suffer at their hands to feel better about themselves. When a person is identified as a bully, he or she must be dealt with immediately.

My biggest fear is that campaigns start with a flourish and then fizzle out once the media departs. Hopefully this new project, and others like it, continues to get the word out. Persistence in this matter is critical.

TriColumbia issues

I am very uneasy when it comes to this TriColumbia issue, as suddenly out of the blue the organization finds itself in some sort of financial chaos.

I, for one, have difficulty in believing that the loss of funds was due to a loss of entrants for the organization's triathlons and because of increased competition.

I have been to almost every race over the years since the triathlon first began in the early 1980s. I have seen the crowds, as recently as last year, be so large that I was forced to park over a mile away from Centennial Park and walk my way over to the starting line. So if there was a loss of entrants, I certainly did not see it.

The place always looked packed to me. As far as competition was concerned, yes there are always competing races that could take entrants away. But I have been told over the years by race organizers that people better register early or they wouldn't get in. Does that sound like a shortage of entrants?

Now comes a lawsuit filed in Howard County Circuit court by two former employees alleging misuse of TriColumbia money. The suit was filed against TriColumbia and its former CEO, Rob Vigorito and his wife.

If the allegations are proven to be true, it will indeed be a sad day.

The triathlons have been a major plus for this community and it would indeed be a shame to see all this good suddenly turn bad.