WASHINGTON -- He had filmed a short public service announcement a few days prior, but before the Nationals faced the Padres on Wednesday afternoon, Trea Turner met with a group of students from 11 D.C.-based schools. They were in attendance as part of MLB's "Shred Hate" program, a bullying prevention
WASHINGTON -- He had filmed a short public service announcement a few days prior, but before the Nationals faced the Padres on Wednesday afternoon, Trea Turner met with a group of students from 11 D.C.-based schools. They were in attendance as part of MLB's "Shred Hate" program, a bullying prevention program that seeks to eliminate bullying by encouraging kids to choose kindness.
About 250 students attended San Diego's 3-1 victory, and about 25 of them were recognized on the field prior to the game along with Billy Bean, Major League Baseball's vice president for social responsibility and special assistant to the Commissioner. They also received a message from Turner, who wanted to give his thought and encouragement to the group on bullying.
"I think two things," Turner said. "Be yourself, you are who you are and be proud of it. And rely on your friends and family. A lot of people that bully or whatever it may be, people that don't know you, classmates or a lot of stuff is from people who don't know who you are and what your values and morals are."
Bean arrived from Minnesota on Wednesday to join the group and continue on with the Nationals in their commitment to bullying prevention. It's the first season for the "Shred Hate" program, with stops in Minnesota, Chicago and Washington, which he called a natural choice to start.
Bean joined MLB in 2014 as the ambassador for inclusion and is excited to see his role grow with this new program. Now, this new initiative, along with its connection to ESPN, can help Bean reach a more national audience.
"To move the conversation, not take them away from the clubhouse, but build off that inclusive, accepting dialogue," he said. "This gives a chance for the players to be a part of something that they may have a lot more in common or can relate to."
Turner was happy to lend a hand or a word of encouragement to the group. He related his experiences with bullying to the children by comparing it to articles written about him each day or "trolls" on Twitter or other forms of social media. For him, keeping a good base with his family and friends helps him tune it all out.
"When you're talking about bullying, it doesn't discriminate," Bean said. "Everybody can relate to being different or being marginalized. So to me, it's a pure message of teamwork, camaraderie. The goal is to create a bully-free environment before there is something that has gone wrong. It's about understanding the power of being part of something."
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.