Be a STAR Rally At Lake Nona Middle School

Yesterday I had the chance to attend a Be a STAR rally at Lake Nona Middle School, and to say it was a moving experience would be an understatement!

Be a STAR

Be a STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) was founded by The Creative Coalition and WWE in April 2011 to help take action against bullying! Be a STAR has also created a partnership with 58 alliance members, including National Education Association Health Information Network (NEA HIN), GLAAD, STOMP Out Bullying, The Ad Council and the United Federation of Teachers all working together to get the message out!

The mission of Be a STAR is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness. Be a STAR promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals and with respect because everyone is a star in their own right.

What is truly amazing is that since it’s launch of the Be a STAR website over 30,000 people from all 50 US states and from 91 countries have taken the pledge to put an end bullying!

In addition to a free anti-bullying curriculum for teachers created by NEA HIN and True Educator, Inc., online resources for parents to help their children deal with bullying, and local Be a STAR chapters in schools and communities, two to three times a month WWE Superstars and Divas visit communities with celebrities and local officials to reinforce the Be a STAR message at rallies!

And these Be a STAR rallies truly drive home the message that everyone can do something to help put an end to bullying!

Yesterday it was an honor to watch as WWE Superstar Sheamus, WWE Diva Summer Rae, and NXT Superstar Xavier Woods addressed hundreds of 6th grade students at Lake Nona Middle School.

Be a STAR
WWE Superstar Sheamus, WWE Diva Summer Rae, and NXT Superstar Xavier Woods

The atmosphere of the rally was pretty awesome! Kids who were relieved to hear that they weren’t alone and had no reason to be ashamed of the bullying they had experienced, WWE talent that opened their hearts to share their own experiences, and a Lake Nona Middle School faculty and staff committed to making sure that their students had every tool they could give them to make sure that they were successful in a healthy learning environment.

Be a STAR
NXT Superstar Xavier Woods

As Xavier Woods spoke about the different kinds of bullying, it was eye-opening to see how many of these children had been affected by cyber-bullying…even on Instagram.

Be a STAR
WWE Diva Summer Rae

Summer Rae shared how she felt when she was teased about being ‘too skinny’ while her friends were bystanders who would just watch it happen instead of speaking up out of fear. She also reinforced to the audience that while she plays a not-so-nice character in the ring, that she does not think that is the right way to treat others and that they should act like the person Summer Rae and not her on-air persona.

Be a STAR
WWE Superstar Sheamus

Then Sheamus took to the podium with cheers that were heard clear across town! Sheamus really hit home that even at his size, he was often bullied. Sheamus also spoke about not blaming yourself for being a target of bullies, and that through understanding and action we can all help put an end to bullying.

And among chants of Don’t be a bully, be a STAR the rally was over.

It was really nice to overhear the students talking about what they had just experienced and things they personally wanted to change as I waited for my chance to talk to Sheamus, Summer Rae, and Xavier Woods.

This was Summer Rae’s first Be a STAR rally, and she was really excited to have the opportunity to participate and make a difference!

Be a STAR

It was an important message for us today that speaking up and not being a bystander is very, very important! When kids are a bystander and say ‘I didn’t see it so I wasn’t a bully’, it’s helping show that it’s just as bad.

Xavier Woods really got the crowd pumped up and ready to hear his experiences when he was cyber bullied.

I did well in school, studied all the time, I was into comic books and video games, and I was the definition of a nerd. And people called me that in a derogatory sense, and so I think that the biggest thing for me besides the cyber-bullying was just completely cutting people off, blocking them, deleting messages, and ignoring them completely was being okay with myself. So once I accepted this is me, this is who I am, I don’t care what anybody thinks that was the last thing I had to get over before I was done with bullying.

Sheamus is a Be a STAR veteran, and I wanted to know if any of the children had ever reached out to him after speaking at a Be a STAR rally.

Be a STAR

It happens all the time. I get a lot of tweets from kids who have realized they were being bullies and why and now they’ve stopped and even kids who found the courage to speak up and help. They tell me stories and send me pictures.. They tell me how they felt hearing that even I have been bullied, and it is just wonderful knowing that I have helped make a difference to hopefully stop bullying.

People often ask my why I am such a huge WWE fan who wants to share my enthusiasm, and quite honestly this is a big reason why. The WWE has shown a dedication to help end bullying through education, resources, and reinforcement from the WWE Superstars and Divas who truly speak from their heart to these children!

I am also asking you to please help to spread the Be a STAR message! Find them on Facebook & Twitter, take action & the pledge to Be a STAR, and help make our communities and schools a better place!

Be a STAR

 

 

 

 

 

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram

Recreation Options at Westgate River Ranch

Last week I talked about the great accommodation options found at the recently reopened Westgate River Ranch. While we were there, my mom and I got to experience several of the fantastic recreation options available to guests and locals. I’d like to take this opportunity to review what we did, plus many of the other activities that we just didn’t have the time to fit in to our fun weekend at the Ranch.

When we first arrived a bit before check in time, our room was not yet ready, so we were encouraged to check out some of the recreation offerings the ranch has. Since we originally were not scheduled to arrive until that night after midnight, we really hadn’t looked too closely at what choices were even available for use as far as recreation for that Friday. Much to our surprise, the ranch was offering helicopter rides as a special activity just for the grand re-opening. I’ve always wanted to ride in a helicopter (I partially blame my love of Magnum P.I. as a child), and I thought this would be a great way to get an overview (literally) of the ranch. The helicopter ride was a great recreation treat, even at just about ten minutes. It was so cool to see the cows and other animals below as well as the layout of Westgate River Ranch.

Before our helicopter ride
Before our helicopter ride
Helicopter cockpit
Helicopter cockpit
Aerial view of shooting range
Aerial view of shooting range
Private airport runway at the ranch
Private airport runway at the ranch

After the helicopter ride, we settled into our rooms before we opted to explore a little on our own prior to dinner. The ranch has golf carts available for rent, but we found it easy enough to drive from place to place by car to get to our recreation activities. The ranch is 1700 acres plus, so walking in the 90+ degree heat was not on our to do list for the weekend. In cooler times of the year it would be a beautiful walk. We checked out the marina area where we would be catching the swamp buggy the next day. We could also see the airboat that was another option. I had taken an airboat ride a few months ago for a friend’s birthday, so we opted for the recreation activity neither my mom nor I had tried.

That night after dinner, we got to experience some of the great nightlife recreation at Westgate River Ranch. The brand new adventure park really comes to life at night, especially since it is directly adjacent to the saloon, bandstand and outdoor dance floor. There was so much fun stuff going on for guests of all ages. We watched others try their hand at the mechanical bull (I wasn’t dumb enough, nor had I imbibed enough alcohol to make that happen), then stumbled upon the miniature golf course. I love miniature golf, and we were still enjoying our beers, so one handed beer golf was born. For the record, I won by a stroke, even though mom did get a hole in one on the last hole. The band played a great mix of country songs, with some pop and classic rock mixed in. In between their sets, there was still music playing, I believe from a DJ. Kids seemed to love the bungee jump and rock climbing wall. The zipline was also one of the most popular recreation options by far. Adventure Park passes include unlimited access to the mechanical bull, miniature golf, bungee jump, rock climbing and two zipline rides per day. One day passes for adults are $39.00 and $29.00 for children, two day passes are $59.00 and $49.00.

Mechanical Bull
Mechanical Bull
Rock Wall
Rock Wall
Kids bungee jumping
Kids bungee jumping
Miniature golf with zipline in background
Miniature golf with zipline in background
Mom shooting skeet
Mom shooting skeet
Me shooting
Me shooting

The next day after breakfast, we headed off to our first scheduled recreation activity, which was the one we were both most excited about when we saw the list of choices: skeet shooting. Neither my mom nor I had ever fired a gun prior to this, unless you count BB guns at fair games. Skeet and Trap Shooting costs $30.00 per session. There was a couple in group who were experienced shooters and had also shot the day before. We were firing a 20 gauge shotgun at moving targets. The orange discs came flying out of a window behind us, and then we had to try to hit the moving targets as they sailed up into the sky at about a 45 degree angle. The man from the couple went first and hit four of his five shots, then his wife hit two of hers. Mom went next and didn’t hit any, but she didn’t expect to not having shot a gun previously. I was up last and hit my first target, missed the next four, but I hit the first one and I had witnesses! It was awesome! I guess all those years of playing Duck Hunt and Goldeneye really paid off. 😉

We had the Swamp Buggy as our afternoon recreation activity, and it was a large open air truck that seats about 12, up about 10 feet in the air. The Swamp Buggy ride is $25.00 for adults and $15.00 for children. Being the last ones on, we were all the way in the back where the seats sit sideways and it is very hard to hear the driver. If you choose this option as one of your recreation activities while at the ranch, make sure you get on first so you can sit up front facing forward. We rode for about 45 minutes through swamp lands across the ranch property and saw some gorgeous scenery and even a couple of baby gators.

Swamp Buggy
Swamp Buggy
Ankole cattle as seen from swamp buggy
Ankole cattle as seen from swamp buggy
Baby gator in the swamp
Baby gator in the swamp
Beautfiul scenery from swamp buggy ride
Beautfiul scenery from swamp buggy ride

That Saturday night was the Rodeo, which is the longest running in the state of Florida. Admission is $15.50 for adults and $8.00 for children. There were amazing trick riders, bull riders, barrel racers, and even great fun for the kids under 12 where they could chase a calf with a ribbon tied to its tail to win a prize if they were able to pull off the ribbon. I had never been to a rodeo before and was pleasantly surprised by how exciting it was and how much fun I had getting in to cheering for the contestants. After the rodeo was over, there was a fantastic fireworks show to celebrate the grand re-opening. Once the rodeo was over, mom decided she was going to tackle the zipline. I had done ropes courses and ziplines before, so I passed this time so I could take pictures and video. She had a great time! In addition to the one and two day adventure park passes, you can pay for the individual recreation activities a la carte.

Rodeo host
Rodeo host
Trick riders before the show
Trick riders before the show
Bull rider
Bull rider
Bucking bronco
Bucking bronco
Kids chasing calf
Kids chasing calf
Trick rider with the flag
Trick rider with the flag
Barrel racing
Barrel racing
Rodeo recreation
Rodeo
Mom getting ready to ride zipline
Mom getting ready to ride zipline

Overall, we got to experience many of the recreation choices at Westgate River Ranch. We visited the petting farm to see all the animals there. Also, we checked out the ropes course, which would be fantastic for a corporate retreat or family reunion for bonding exercises. We passed on horseback riding and golf since these are activities we’ve experienced before, but the facilities looked great. I would definitely like to check out the airboat ride next time and revisit skeet or maybe try trap shooting. The helicopter ride was definitely a bonus treat, but it is great to know there is an airport there for private planes and helicopters if I ever marry a millionaire and want to arrive in style. The adventure park and saloon area were also favorites of mine, especially at night. There was such a fun atmosphere of electricity with families and adult couples enjoying different aspects of the nightlife. Prices for all activities are subject to change. Please contact the ranch directly for the most up to date pricing.

Baby calf
Baby calf
Buffalo at the petting farm
Buffalo at the petting farm
Goats
Goats
Rogue turkey
Rogue turkey

If you get an opportunity, I highly recommend visiting Westgate River Ranch to check out their amazing recreation facilities as well as accommodations. In case you missed it, you can check out my post from last week here describing the different types of rooms the ranch has.

Disclaimer: I received complimentary recreation activities in exchange for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusyoutubetumblrinstagram