Hazel Park High gets ready for ‘No Swear November’

Swear not to swear and support Hazel Park Youth Assistance

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published October 29, 2014


HAZEL PARK — Even when there’s no mean intent, swearing can have some unintended side effects. It can make others uncomfortable by creating an environment that feels less inviting. And swear words carry a negative tone that can make it harder to think and act constructively.

These are among the points being made by Hazel Park Youth Assistance (HPYA) as they promote “No Swear November” at Hazel Park High School. The call for “positive communication” will also be present at Hazel Park Junior High. The month-long initiative hopes to bring about lifelong change, starting a dialogue that organizers hope will continue throughout the coming months and years, and by degrees, create more sensitive and forward-thinking students.

“We feel the students do not yet realize the effect their language has on the people around them and how it could affect their future,” said Steve Morton, a teacher at Hazel Park High and a member of Hazel Park Youth Assistance.

But it’s not just the students who are being targeted. The staff is encouraged to be mindful of their attitude and actions, as well. And “No Swear November” extends beyond the schools, to anyone in the community who wants to clean up their language.

Through it all, funds are being raised for HPYA, allowing them to provide critical services to families in the community. These include scholarships for students to go on life-changing trips, skill-building workshops for parents, the high school’s Challenge Day which helps break down barriers among kids, and a back-to-school shopping spree that purchases clothing and supplies for kids in need. This holiday season will also see HPYA’s Breakfast with Santa at the Recreation Center, a popular family-friendly event.

Money is raised during “No Swear November” in a handful of ways. There are the wristbands that can be bought for $2 each, sold at the schools and at participating businesses and municipal buildings, listed at the website, www.noswearnovember.com.

Last year’s wristband colors were red and yellow, for visibility. This year, they’re going with school-themed colors: maroon and gray for the high school, and red, white and blue for the junior high. There are also pink models that glow in the dark. Each one says “No Swear November” and “Supporting Hazel Park Youth Assistance.”

There are also swear jars, which can be purchased by individuals and businesses for $5 each. These will also be out collecting general donations at participating businesses and municipal buildings, also listed at the website.

All donations will go to HPYA, as will proceeds from the sales of the jars. Those who buy the jar for themselves can use it however they like. The idea is to pitch in some change every time you swear, and ideally donate it to a good cause.

One can also request these items on Facebook by searching “No Swear November” and then pick them up at the schools. A number of other groups have gotten involved at Hazel Park High to help promote this effort, including student-led groups like the Hazel Park Leadership Class and Empowerment Zone, and teacher-led groups like Positive Behavior Intervention Services and the Student Support and Involvement Committee.

To help get to the bottom of why and how kids swear, organizers are also putting together an online presurvey involving all of the students who will ask them about their swearing habits and attitudes toward swearing.

“Hopefully, we can find the cause, and find a solution to reduce swearing and promote positive communication,” Morton said.

Teachers at Hazel Park High are already creating a day’s worth of curriculum on the topic of swearing. Social studies, for example, will talk about the history of swearing, while English classes will discuss the different types of swearing, from cuss words to blasphemous words and the different ways people are affected by swearing.

“We’re not looking to outlaw swearing in public like Benito Mussolini, but it would be nice to have more sportsmanship and less profanity,” Morton said, adding that he’d like to see swearing cleaned up at school sporting events, in particular.

This is the second year of “No Swear November.” Morton said they saw a notable decrease in swearing last year in the months that followed the first go around. They’re hoping that, each year, they’ll see the positive behavior extended further.

For Michelle Grabill, of Hazel Park, mother of Hazel Park Zombie Walk co-organizer Jonas Grabill, last year’s “No Swear November” came at just the right time. She was at the Zombie Walk when she ran into Morton, who she remembered from when her sons attended the high school. He was there selling the wristbands.

“I was really excited, because it just so happened that I had already been working on cutting down on swearing, trying not to swear at all, and I had been praying and asking God to help me,” Grabill said in an email. “And lo and behold, I meet up with Steve who is selling the wristbands! … It really helped me choose my words more carefully. I think ‘No Swear November’ is a wonderful thing to have for high school students, and even for us adults. It promotes better communication.”

In addition to buying the $2 wristbands and/or $5 swear jars, or donating to the swear jars at participating businesses and municipal buildings including Hazel Park City Hall, people can donate directly to Hazel Park Youth Assistance by taking the PayPal link at www.noswearnovember.com.

Requests for wristbands and swear jars can also be made on Facebook by looking up the No Swear November page.