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National PTA and Blackboard Honored by The Wireless Foundation for Changing Lives through Wireless at its VITA Achievement Awards Dinner

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LaWanda Toney, Director of Strategic Communications
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ALEXANDRIA, VA (July 29, 2013)—The Wireless Foundation recognized individuals and organizations whose use of wireless technology have led to positive and significant societal impacts. The VITA Achievement Awards honored National PTA, American Red Cross, Ericsson, and North Carolina’s Onslow County Public Schools for connected health, green wireless, children’s wireless and online safety and education initiatives. The awards were presented at the 19th Annual VITA Achievement Awards Dinner at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium.

"It’s an honor to be a part of an industry that has such a tremendous impact on people’s lives, from helping in emergency situations to improving education and healthcare. It’s also important to recognize the wireless industry’s efforts to help protect and positively affect the environment and keep kids safe when they’re online. This year’s recipients are well-deserving individuals and organizations and their stories were inspiring," said Steve Largent, President of The Wireless Foundation and President and CEO of CTIA.

National PTA received the Children’s Wireless & Online Safety award for their partnership with Blackboard Inc. on the launch of TipTxt, a free two-way texting service developed by Blackboard that allows students to confidentially notify school officials of incidents involving bullying or school safety. Eric Hargis, Executive Director of National PTA, accepted the award on behalf of the association.

“Research shows that kids who are involved in bullying incidents are more likely to use harmful substances (i.e., tobacco, alcohol and other drugs), suffer from depression and anxiety, and skip school. Experts suggest telling a trusted adult when a situation arises to help ease the short- and long-term emotional burden for youth. But some feel that action may result in peer pressure or backlash. As parents, our children’s emotional and physical safety is our number one concern. That’s why when Blackboard introduced us to TipTxt, we saw it as a free and confidential way for students to not only tell a trusted adult, but to tell an adult who’s accountable for resolving the problem. The confidentiality ensures students can feel emotionally and physically safe when using TipTxt. With a tool like this, more youth will feel comfortable sharing when they see bullying or other dangerous situations, reporting incidents confidential via text and feeling satisfied that they did the right thing,” said Eric Hargis, Executive Director of National PTA.

About PTA’s Connect for Respect

In March 2011, National PTA launched an initiative to encourage PTAs across the country to lead conversations in their school communities about bullying, how it is affecting their communities, and to develop solutions that they can implement collaboratively together.

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. Learn more at