THP Project Purple Initiative: BRONX, NY
As Jonathan Goffman and Nick Kazolias, physical education teachers, walked through the corridors at Mott Hall Science & Technology Academy (MHSTA) an inner-city, at-risk school located in Bronx, NYC, eyes widened and heads immediately turned.
Both Goffman and Kazolias had purple hair.
The teachers had kicked off the THP Project Purple initiative in the school after Chris Herren spoke to the middle school students back in September. Goffman immediately embraced the idea of starting the THP Project Purple Initiative at MHSTA, a low-income, at risk middle school where 99 percent of the population qualifies for free lunch.
“It’s important to get across the (THP Project Purple Initiative) message out to every student. In an at-risk environment, if the students don’t think they can succeed academically they are more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol,” he said.
In an effort to generate awareness and funds for to support the THP Project Purple program, Goffman engaged the student body and held fundraisers – including a bake sale in which the students sold purple frosted cupcakes. Goffman and Kazolias made a promise to his students. If they reached the fundraising goal of $500 for THP Project Purple, the teachers would dye their hair purple.
The teachers were happy to make heads turn as they showed up at the school one morning with their hair dyed purple. They had reached their fundraising goal and more importantly, the THP Project Purple Initiative message was gaining traction in the school.
“It’s really important – especially at the middle school level to get the THP Project Purple Initiative message across,” Goffman said. “People don’t think drugs and alcohol use starts until later. But at this age (middle school) kids are forming who the will be for the rest of their lives. Even if we just get one kid to say no it will be worth it. Hopefully the message will benefit more than just one student though.”
Goffman, the school’s baseball and basketball coach, has his basketball players wear purple warm up jerseys at their games.
“As we travel through the city, we will bring the THP Project Purple Initiative message to others,” said Goffman.