Women’s health forum takes on bullying issues

St. Elizabeth Hospital and its Women’s Advisory Council held the sixth annual parish-wide luncheon on Women’s Health on May 8 at Elegant Affairs in Gonzales.

More than 250 women heard a panel of guest speakers discuss bullying and learn how a community can help put a stop to it.

Patrice Pujol, superintendent of Ascension Parish public schools, moderated the panel of guest speakers that included Dr. Donald Hoppe, Dr. Lakisha Lee and Leonard Pauley III.

The panel discussed bullying, the negative effects it has on victims as well as perpetrators, actions that can be taken by anyone who suspects a child is being bullied, and the growing problem of cyber bullying.

Pauley talked about his daughter Hannah’s suicide as a result of bullying. In the wake of her death, Pauley established the Hannah Pauley Foundation as a platform to educate communities on the issue of bullying and fund counseling services for children that could not otherwise afford the service. He travels around the country honoring Hannah’s memory by speaking out against bullying and challenging people to take a long, hard look at themselves and the way in which they speak to those around them, a new release from the hospital says.

He challenged those attending to stand up against a culture of bullying that reaches far beyond schoolyards across the nation, the release says.

Lee shared her childhood bullying experiences and talked about how she approaches the topic of bullying with her patients. She expressed concern over a culture that accepts bullying as a natural part of growing up, and encouraged parents to take it seriously, the release says.

Hoppe challenged the community to be vigilant and encourage children to talk openly about troubling issues.

St. Elizabeth Hospital’s Community Education department distributed informational packets containing information about anti-bullying practices. Additionally, they distributed nearly 4,000 anti-bullying coloring books, 5,000 Kids Against Bullying bookmarks, and 5,000 Teens Against Bullying bookmarks through the Ascension Parish Public Primary Schools and community events.

Women’s Advisory Council Chairwoman Judy Waguespack presented Pauley with a $500 donation to the Hannah Pauley Foundation.

Vice Chairwoman Ranee Rogers ended the day’s event with a call to action against bullying. Attendees were asked to sign a pledge as the first step to growing a community committed to ending bullying.

The luncheon was partially funded from the Region 6 Office on Women’s Health.

The St. Elizabeth Women’s Advisory Council was formed to enhance the communication between the hospital and the greater Ascension Parish community, fostering a greater understanding of the services provided by St. Elizabeth Hospital.