Cousins advocates nonviolence with new book

Cousins advocates nonviolence with new book

By Lisa Palmeno, Staff Writer

Local author and poet Flora Cousins will hold a press conference and book signing at 10 a.m. today at Zion Lutheran Church, 925 5th Ave., to unveil her new book Don’t Be a Bully! Be A Buddy!

Cousins has joined with numerous members of the community in developing a not-for-profit violence abatement program for children based on her book. Cousins’ husband Kirk Pryor is her manager and has also provided all computer illustrations for the project.

The committee to promote the book and programs around it has grown to include many influential business and human service-oriented people.

James Robinson, a consultant for Sowell and Associates Consulting and 8th-grade science teacher at Washington Academy, is putting together an advertising/marketing plan. President of Sowell and Assoc. Consulting Larry Sowell, will be responsible for fundraising. James Saunders, who is a counselor and psychologist for behavior modification programs says his role will be to structure Cousins’ program for her to go into schools and the community to “catch the attention of children and guide them toward appropriate behavior.” He emphasized the need for such a program, citing three deaths in the past week in the Rockford area caused by gunfire. He says that the statistics on gun violence are “horrible” and that he and Sowell plan to react in a proactive manner toward intervention and prevention.

Outreach Coordinator for Zion Lutheran Church Ruth Fairchild and the church’s Director of Children’s Ministry & Outreach

programs Jeanne Thomas are partnering to implement the concept at Zion and Patriots Gateway. Pastor Denver Bitner of Zion has

endorsed the book, which will be dramatized by 35-year puppet veteran Roberta Nielsen in puppet shows every Wednesday evening

for their “WOW Wednesdays” for 3 to 5-year-olds and kindergarten and up groups. Thomas’ husband, Bob, an adult volunteer, will provide Bible computer games around Cousins’ theme for children.

“I think it’s a marvelous book,” commented Roberta Nielsen. “I’m really excited about it.” Geri Alten is a violence prevention

collaborative coordinator for the Winnebago County Health Department. She will go into the community to further the impact of the Don’t Be a Bully! Be A Buddy! topic.

Besides Bitner and Cousins’ committee, the number of endorsements has grown to include the following: Mayor Doug Scott; Park District CEO Webbs Norman and Chief Operating Officer Tim Dimke; Chief of Police Jeff Nielsen; U.S. Representative Don Manzullo; Senator Dave Syverson; President and Owner of Speed Queen BBQ Betty J. Gillespie; 1st Vice-President, Waukesha County Branch NAACP Lillie B. Wilson; State Representative Chuck E. Jefferson; Jim Jennings of Rockford Public Schools; Executive Director Human Services City of Rockford Granada Williams; Executive Director for Elgin Daycare Center Marion Durham; Sharifa Nichols of Unlimited Achievements, Inc.; Pastor Smith of Deliverance Missionary Church; Apostle Melvin Brown of House of Grace; County Board Chairman Kristine Cohn; Ubiquity Records’ Sonny Crudup; former Administrative Business Manager of Riverview Ice House Ann Thompson; David House of the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau; Andrew Finkbiender of Youth Services, Rockford Public Library; Pastor Don Lyon, DD of Faith Center; Executive Director of Project First Rate and Mr. 4th of July Joe Marino; Oprah Winfrey’s mother and activist Vernita Lee; Supervisor of School Social Workers and Home School Counselors Ed Portillo; and author Phyllis K. Peterson. Marketing Director of McDonald’s Corp. Carol Ervin announced the franchise will partner with the Rockford Park District, who is sponsoring the project through the Patriots Gateway Center.

Endorser Gloria Cardenas Cudia maintains that she is “Flora’s greatest fan,” and will support and encourage the Hispanic community in the role of liaison as well as presenting the book on her public access television show on Insight Communications channel 17.

The book has already been translated into Spanish by Ignacio Perez.

Chuck Jefferson states in his endorsement letter: “Researchers across the country are studying to try to understand the troubled hearts and minds of our youth today. All the symptoms of behavioral issues are present due to many problems that can confront these young lives. After the devastating incident in Columbine, Colo., it is suspected from the evidence presented that bullying could have been one of the major factors for the outburst of anger by the two teens that committed this crime. Don’t Be a Bully! Be a Buddy! project can reach so many young people and be the intervention they might need to put their life on the right track.”

Cousins’ theory is this: “Bullying left alone becomes terrorism when fully blown.”

Cousins’ administrative assistant, Pam Much, will provide refreshments and assistance to attendees during events. Charles

Lathan will sing for the children and event attendees.

The public is invited to attend. Books will be available for puchase for $5 the day of the press conference and at Gift Box, 107 St. Louis Ave., beginning Sept. 20.

For information on Don’t Be a Bully! Be a Buddy!, contact Kirk Pryor or Flora Cousins at (815)229-0945. For information on Zion’s Wow Wednesdays, contact Jeanne Thomas or Ruth Fairchild at (815)964-4609.

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