Published: January 29, 2020
It takes only a moment for someone to type a nasty comment into a text or social media post and then for it to be received. But the effects of this simple action can have lasting consequences. Accounting major Greg Davis ’23 has seen this firsthand.
“As a teen leader, I often found myself helping a child in tears over insensitive comments,” said Davis, who was named a Lightning Community Hero at a Tampa Bay Lightning game last month. “This gave me the desire to take initiative and start my own homegrown anti-bullying campaign.”
The Lightning Community Heroes of Tomorrow is a program run by the Lightning Foundation that highlights young individuals in the Tampa Bay community who are making a difference in the public by driving social change. Davis has actively been spreading his message of mutual respect and acceptance through a series of anti-cyberbullying campaigns and volunteer work.
Davis is the second UT student to be named a community hero. In 2018, accounting major Erin Hanson ’21 was awarded as a community hero for developing a peer mentoring program for youth athletes.
Davis has always been involved with youth programs in the Tampa area. His father, who served in the U.S. Army, exposed Davis to military youth programs.
Davis initially got involved with anti-cyberbullying campaigns after witnessing first-hand the serious impact that cyberbullying can have on youth.
“As technology continues to emerge as a forefront of communication and education among youth, it is critical that it become a safe place unhindered by bullies,” said Davis.
Davis created and distributed educational handouts on cyberbullying, as well as on the acceptance of race and gender. The handouts were distributed in the Tampa community as well as in several Florida military installations. In addition, Davis has served as a volunteer with Metropolitan Ministries, Trinity Café and the Glazer Children’s Museum.
“Overall, I feel my efforts alone have reached nearly 1,000 vulnerable youth through my work at MacDill Youth Center, MacDill Lanes, Glazer Children’s Museum and Hillsborough County back-to-school events,” said Davis.
Davis is receiving a $50,000 donation from the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes Program. Half of the donation will go toward a scholarship for his education, while the rest of the donation will go directly to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, which Davis is partnering with to develop the anti-cyberbullying campaign to promote acceptance and mutual respect.
A majority of the money donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs will go toward creating pamphlets and the creation of a professional video series on bullying, which will be shown to the more than 20,000 participants in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay. Eventually, the goal is to share the videos with all national Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“The main concept of this program will be to produce professional-quality videos and awareness information which will be spread throughout the community, while also empowering youth to become ‘respect diplomats’ and lead awareness discussions,” said Davis, defining “respect diplomats” as young individuals selected at each club to act as responsible leaders who plan awareness events on bullying.
At UT, Davis is able to continue spreading his message of mutual respect through networking with professors and other students on a personal level.
“One of the reasons I selected The University of Tampa was that I recognized UT offered a personalized support system that would enable me to continue to impact my Tampa community,” Davis said.
Story by Mallory Culhane '21, journalism major