By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

The bear in the room

Purple Hands Bear helps commemorate Hands & Words Week

Submitted photoThe human-size Purple Hands Bear and Gretchen Olson, local leader of the Hands & Words movement, wave to the camera at a recent school board meeting.
Submitted photo
The human-size Purple Hands Bear and Gretchen Olson, local leader of the Hands & Words movement, wave to the camera at a recent school board meeting.

McMinnville School Board members and staff, parents and students in the audience recited the Hands & Words pledge, "I will not use my hands or my words for hurting myself or others," at last week's school board meeting. 

Students across the McMinnville district recite the anti-violence pledge on a regular basis. It has been used in the district for eight years as part of efforts to decrease all kinds of violence and abuse and increase respect and healthy relationships.

The board also proclaimed Oct. 19 to 25 Hands & Words Week. Gretchen Olson, local leader of the Hands & Words movement, said the anti-violence program started in Salem 17 years ago and now is being used worldwide.

In McMinnville, she said, the program's purple hand logo can be seen on every school, on many homes and on more than 350 businesses and buildings throughout the community. Locally, the program is sponsored by Soroptimist International of McMinnville.

Olson, who was accompanied by the fuzzy, human-size Purple Hands Bear, said the program is an important part of schools. "We recognize that each student is a valuable, irreplaceable human being," she said.

The bear also visited the McMinnville City Council.

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