Venetia Resident Creates Award-Winning Kids Program Designed Around Joke Telling

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, September 29, 2005. Executives of the Allegheny County Bar Association have announced that its This is a Joke – Making Fun of Others is Not! Program, designed for students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade, has been named one of the best community and educational programs by the National Association of Bar Executives (NABE). The program was created by Director of Media Relations Tom Loftus, who is a resident of Venetia, Pennsylvania.

The program, which was created a little more than a year ago, has been presented to approximately 5,000 students in Allegheny County by attorneys who volunteer their time. The program teaches students the difference between a good joke and a bad one, why making fun of others is wrong and why it is our differences that make us special. The lesson plan is designed around students sharing their favorite jokes, and it was reviewed and critiqued by education and psychology professors at Duquesne University before it was rolled out.

Kids Program Designed Around Joke Telling The program was one of only five bar association programs nationally that received the prestigious NABE Community & Educational Outreach Award, sponsored by LexisNexis. As part of the award, LexisNexis awarded the Allegheny County Bar Association $25,000 in free legal research. The association will donate the research, through its pro bono office, to local organizations in need of the service.

According to Dave Blaner, Executive Director of the Allegheny County Bar Association, “We have been told by many teachers and administrators that this is a much needed program and that it complements nicely other programs related to bullying. Our director of media relations, Tom Loftus, created the program to help teach students serious messages in a fun environment. Tom, who is a father of three and long-time basketball coach, understands how innocent joke telling can turn into children making fun of others. Tom’s decision to design the program around joke-telling has appealed to teachers not only in Allegheny County but in other counties, states and countries, where organizations have requested permission to copy the program.”

Loftus, a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, has more than 20 years of experience in media relations and public relations. Prior to joining the Allegheny County Bar Association, he was a public relations executive in the hotel industry for more than a decade and has worked in four other industries. He has three children, Brittany, Shea and Colin. He is a basketball coach and athletic director at St. Valentine School in Bethel Park, and a member of the board of directors of the Auberle School in McKeesport.