By Elizabeth Sias
Students at Braham Area Elementary School now have tools in place to take a stand against bullying.
Professional actors from CLIMB Theatre visited the high school Monday, Dec. 5, to perform an original play titled “The Bystander” for third through sixth grade students.
The play taught appropriate techniques to students regarding how to deal with bullying and harassment in and outside the classroom.
“Bullying is a very serious topic for all ages, and if they learn it early then they can hopefully prevent it so when they get older they don’t actually bully,” CLIMB Theatre actor JR Ritcherson said. “Bullying can lead to suicide and other terrible things so it’s good to learn it early on.”
Through the performance, students learn how to effectively take a stand against bullying and learn that bystanders can have a big impact on creating bully-free schools.
“When they actually see it for themselves, they know what bullying is and what bullying isn’t, and so they can choose what not to do,” Ritcherson said.
During the play, a new kid at a school meets a student called Wheels who bullies a girl by making fun of her card collection, tripping her and stealing her backpack. The new student — the bystander — doesn’t defend her at first, but later helps her stand up to Wheels and put an end to his bullying.
“He thinks it’s funny,” the victim, or bullying target, said in the play. “He thinks it’s a joke.”
“Do you?” the new student asked.
“Well then it’s not a joke,” the new student said. “If someone messes with over and over because they want to make you feel bad, that’s bullying.”
The actors taught students to use the acronym CALM, which stands for Cool down, Assert yourself, Lift your chin, Mean it.
During the 2010-2011 school year, CLIMB Theatre presented bullying prevention programs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota — reaching 200,000 to 300,000 students a year. Students learn that kids who bully can be any size, come from any background, and girls can bully, too.
“I think a lot of times kids feel that they’re the victim and that they have no voice or nothing that they can do,” fifth grade teacher Pam Eklund said. “This gave them a voice and told them different steps they can take and how they can feel empowered and that they’re not alone.”
For more information about CLIMB, Creative Learning Ideas for Mind and Body, visit www.climb.org.