Students Teach and Learn How to Inspire Compassion

Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School partnered with MCC's chapter of the Psi Beta Psychology National Honor Society to present components of the Heroic Imagination Project (HIP), a national program designed to inspire compassion.

Arlen SykesArlen Sykes More than 50 fifth-grade students, members of Colina’s Aerospace Club, received an orientation of the Bystander Effect, one element of the HIP, which reinforces the engagement process and helps develop a mindset that encourages willingness to act on behalf of others or in the defense of fairness and equality. Students were exposed to situations where people were in trouble or injured and no one came to help.

“Club members not only learn about aerospace but search and rescue and first aid. I thought the HIP would be perfect for them as they have the skills, they just need to know what may prevent them from taking action,” explained Mr. Arlen Sykes, a teacher at Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School and MCC Alumnus. “The program effectively demonstrated to students how one ‘right’ choice by one person can dramatically change a situation, someone’s life and our society as a whole – developing what the HIP calls a civic virtue of heroic action.”

“Social psychology tells us that, due to diffusion of responsibility, pluralistic ignorance, and fear of looking foolish, the more people there are around when someone needs help, the less likely it is that anyone will respond,” said Ann Ewing, MCC residential psychology faculty.

MCC Psi Beta chapter members, led by student leader Heather Smyth, presented on the Bystander Effect to hundreds on campus to MCC clubs and classes, and in the community to elementary and high school students.

“Our goal was and is to encourage and inspire people to compassionately reach out to their fellow man” said Heather Smyth, leader of MCC’s 2013-14 Psi Beta chapter.

As a college for its community, MCC students regularly conduct research and present findings both on campus and to community members Valley-wide.