Sport in Society, a North­eastern Uni­ver­sity research center, and the Mass­a­chu­setts Inter­scholastic Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion have teamed up to create an anti-​​bullying lead­er­ship training ini­tia­tive for high-​​school student-​​athletes, coaches, teachers and com­mu­nity members.

Three schools will be selected to par­tic­i­pate in the first year of the three-​​year ini­tia­tive, which will include a two-​​day training pro­gram on Aug. 9–10 at the MIAA Con­fer­ence Center in Franklin, Mass. Pro­gram topics will include bul­lying and vio­lence pre­ven­tion, sports­man­ship and diversity.

Selected schools will receive a $2,500 pro­gram imple­men­ta­tion grant from the PI Garden Fund. Appli­ca­tions are due by June 1.

Sport in Society pro­gram director Caitlin Geddes said the goal of the ini­tia­tive is three-​​fold: raise aware­ness about the severity of bul­lying in schools, open a dia­logue among student-​​athletes and inspire lead­er­ship in pre­venting the effects of bul­lying on young lives.

We want to empower student-​​athletes to become leaders who feel com­fort­able in cre­ating more pos­i­tive and respectful cul­tures in their schools,” she said. “We want to change the cul­ture on a large scale.”

Upon com­pleting the training pro­gram, student-​​athletes will apply what they learned through com­mu­nity ser­vice activ­i­ties with middle school stu­dents, which Geddes said would “encourage respect, accep­tance and phys­ical activity.”

Middle-​​school stu­dents will listen to their older peers’ mes­sage,” she said. “Sport is the uni­versal lan­guage for com­mu­ni­cating the impor­tance of social issues.”

The ini­tia­tive is the latest example of Northeastern’s effort to improve the dia­logue around the issue of youth bul­lying. In March, the School of Law hosted a sym­po­sium to dis­cuss the evolving legal impli­ca­tions of school bul­lying. In December, the uni­ver­sity hosted a day­long con­fer­ence, Stand Up 2011, which drew thou­sands of local high-​​school stu­dents to campus to dis­cuss the topic.