In January of this year, Mike Dilbeck, a national advocate for ending bystander behavior, founded the Every|Day Hero™ Campaign—a national initiative of the RESPONSE ABILITY Project. With a mission to empower the every|day hero in all of us, this initiative provides ongoing educational and empowerment resources to fulfill the Every|Day Hero Pledge in our lives—and make the difference we want to make for people, organizations and issues we care about.
Discover one example of the impact that the Every|Day Hero Campaign can have on your campus.
It’s Not WHAT This Campaign Is About. It’s WHO.
By Jason Bosch, Director of Student Life Learning & Assessment, Emporia State University
This campaign is you. It is me. It is us. It is we.
I’ve had the exciting, empowering, humbling opportunity to be part of a team of students and staff that is bringing the Every|Day Hero Campaign to Emporia State University and the community of Emporia, Kansas. I want to share with you my experiences thus far in our efforts to spread the Every|Day Hero message, in hopes that some of you will take on the important and rewarding responsibility of leading campaigns in your own communities. As the first university and community to adopt the campaign, it has been a whirlwind of an experience, and I am excited, and anxious with each day and each development of the process.
When Mike first shared the Every|Day Hero concept with me last fall, I instantly connected with it. I had a feeling he was on to something big. I pitched the idea of using the Every|Day Hero message as the foundation for a student leadership institute some colleagues and I were planning, to both bring the message to our students and to help set the stage for a successful national campaign launch later that month. The leadership institute team jumped on board, and two outstanding colleagues of mine, Mary Shivley and Taylor Kriley, developed the curriculum. One hundred ESU students participated in the institute and took the Every|Day Hero Pledge on January 9, 2012. And just like I did, they instantly connected with the campaign’s message. It was amazing. But we knew we needed to do more.
In the span of a few weeks, the first campaign week was developed, which was hosted at Emporia State University on February 6-10. They promoted the website, encouraged people to take the pledge and distributed “hero challenges” to passers-by at the campaign table. The ESU Associated Student Government got involved by hosting a campus open forum to explore ways to improve our community, and they are now using ideas generated from the forum to set priorities for the year. Emporia State University President, Michael Shonrock, has even joined the effort by taking the pledge and publicly supporting the work our students are doing with this campaign.
As the campus campaign planning was under way, I began thinking about launching an Emporia community campaign. To be quite honest, I didn’t really know where to start. I just knew it needed to happen. Mary, my colleague, and I brainstormed and came up with a game plan: hold an informational meeting, invite a bunch of people, tell them about Every|Day Hero, talk about our campus efforts, throw out some campaign ideas and see who bites. We invited the mayor, the police chief, the sexual violence and child abuse victim advocacy group, the community drug awareness organization, some university members and the local media, among others. We decided to focus our campaign efforts in three areas:
• Marketing – spreading awareness about the national campaign and promoting the website
• Education – connecting people with existing community resources, and developing new programs to create more heroes
• Recognition – highlighting heroes in our community to serve as role-models for others
Within a couple days of sending the invitation, I received a call from the radio station asking to do a 15-minute segment on the campaign. About a week later, we had the informational meeting. The next week, I received an email from the local newspaper asking to come to their office to film a segment for their weekly web video show.
The word is spreading. We are in the midst of what I hope will bring our community together in a new and different way than anything else has before. And, we are very excited to bring Mike to our community this fall to present the Every|Day Hero keynote.
This campaign must be a never-ending journey, a quest for each of us to individually pursue heroic lives and collectively work to create a better world. It will require sacrifice—of time, of energy, quite possibly of money, and most certainly of any self-doubt that you were born to make a difference.
We cannot stop at taking the pledge. We must live it.
Want to start the change in your community like Emporia State University has? Visit campuspeak.com/dilbeck to learn more about Mike, and visit the RAProject.org to learn more about the Every|Day Hero Campaign.