Friday, September 11, 2009

5000 Kids Get Smart About Cyber Safety This Summer

The Boston Public Schools’ (BPS) Cyber Safety Campaign is a unique program aimed at educating young people in Boston communities about safe Internet behaviors. Designed by BPS kids for kids, the Cyber Safety Campaign materials and activities were created to educate youth and their families everywhere about how to best protect their online activities and experiences.

Launched four years ago by the BPS Office of Instructional and Information Technology (OIIT), the program has continued to grow with new Cyber Safety Campaign materials and activities being developed every year. The graphic design concept, created by BPS students, features the BPS Cyber Safety Heroes – Amika, Shield, Copyright and Firewall. These super heroes help deliver the message to kids about the best ways to be safe on-line. The educational materials are being used in several elementary and middle schools in the City of Boston. Felicia Vargas, the BPS administrator who oversees the program, has set a goal of having the materials distributed to all kindergarten though eighth-grade BPS classrooms during the 2009 – 2010 school year.

This summer, thanks to the generous sponsorship of Microsoft and the Boston Society of Information Management, the BPS was able to continue the successful Cyber Mentor program. This program, overseen by the BPS TechBoston department (a division of OIIT), hires and trains high school students to serve as Cyber Safety Mentors. Once trained, the Cyber Safety mentors are deployed to community-based organizations and summer camp programs to conduct cyber safety educational presentations. During the summer months, nine Cyber Mentors fanned out in teams across the city and succeeded in giving 90 presentations and reaching over 5,000 people! Dressed in their blue T-shirts with the turquoise blue BPS Cyber Safety Campaign logo, the Cyber Mentors used the BPS cyber safety materials, including a movie, comic book, trading cards, key chains and buttons to spread the safety message to kids attending summer programs at churches, Boston Centers for Youth and Families, YMCAs and even Fenway Park! The Cyber Mentors were also co-presented at two Internet safety presentations in August conducted for the BPS School Police with Eric Esteves and Joe Kidd from the BPS technology department.

The Summer 2009 Cyber Mentor team included Darnell Coleman and Antoinette Jean from the John D. O'Bryant School of Math & Science, Idris Ali from East Boston High School, Hansey Blanfort from Madison Park HS, Cassandra Clark, Chloe Lynn and Aaron Sheffield from TechBoston Academy, Shaquille White from Brighton High School and Chavella Lee who attends Boston Latin Academy.
 Two BPS graduates, Vasantee Reddicks and Rachel Gaffney, were tapped by TechBoston to oversee the summer project.

For more information about the BPS Cyber Safety Campaign, visit

No comments: