FFA members lasso in bullies for elementary students
By Jessica Ketchum
Saddle up, partner, and get ready for the Morgan County FFA team's newest challenge- mentoring elementary school kids on the power of bullying. This small, determined team of high school students, led by FFA director Tim Savelle, all became certified instructors for the Bullying Hurts program. Every Thursday for six weeks, from September 4 to October 16 (omitting intersession), they moseyed on over to the elementary school where they visited Ms. Langcaster, Ms. Spence and Ms. Good's 3rd and 4th grade classrooms, all in the hope of educating the students on the negative power of bullying.
Starvin Marvin used his professional rodeo clown career to create the "Bullying Hurts" program. Being a rodeo clown, Marvin is used to having to deal with "bullies" and risking his life to protect someone else from getting hurt by them. By using this concept, Marvin developed a program that focuses on three things: how to identify when you are being bullied, how to act when you are being bullied and understanding why bullying occurs. Marvin now resides in Wyoming where he has extended his program on a national level, reaching 37 states and over 300 schools, including Morgan County Elementary School.
Throughout this short, yet enriching time, the elementary students were taught that violence is never the answer to bullies and how important it is to talk to a grown up when you feel that you are being bullied. "My students really enjoyed the bullying program," explains 4th grade teacher Karen Spence.
"They liked talking about their feelings about bullying and realizing that it happens to everyone."
The program includes workbooks, videos, and posters to put up in their classrooms. They also learn by sharing some of their own stories of bullies.
Through this, the children can see how much bullying can hurt someone and may be able to call themselves out on some bulling behavior of their own.
"We try and help to give these kids the tools they need to deal with bullying at school, at home and on the playground," states FFA director Tim Savelle. "It's definitely a problem that causes fighting and low self-esteem."
The program focuses on the idea that children naturally learn from their peers and help to create role models and mentors with the high school students.
As for the elementary school students, they're usually in awe of just the mere sight of high school kids taking the time to talk to them. "I think their favorite part was visiting with the high school students," says Spence. "They really look up to them."
Of course, the elementary school children are not the only ones who benefited from the program. "It's a great opportunity for the FFA members to be of service to the community," states Savelle. "They gain self confidence, public speaking skills and it helps them to deal with bullies themselves. It also presents a great career idea for some of them."
"I really enjoyed working with the kids," proclaims junior FFA member Ashley Carter. "They were all so sweet and a lot of fun."
The FFA team reached a total of 61 elementary school children with this year's program. The group's goal was to try to reduce the amount of discipline referrals as well as the acts of bullying as a whole. The team plans to return to the school to see if their goal was accomplished, and next year they hope to reach even more children.