The Wadena Elementary School had a visitor on April 27 when Saskatchewan Roughrider Dan Clark came out to speak on anti-bullying. He gave presentations to the kindergarten to Grade 4 classes and then to the grades 5 and 6 classes and the Composite School students who walked over for the afternoon.
Although Clark used the standard slide show for anti-bullying information, his approach was different and refreshing.
“I was badly bullied in school so I appreciate the chance to tell my story when I do these,” Clark told the News. “If I can affect one kid, it feels great. Just one kid can make a difference.”
He related personal experiences with bullying and pointed out that some things – such as teasing – can be OK between friends but not strangers.
He called students up to the front to help provide examples of bullying and how it feels to be bullied — or to be the bully — and asked them lots of questions.
“Why?” was a frequent part of the interactions as he encouraged the students to think about possibilities, not just give rote answers.
“This is a judgment-free zone; there are no wrong answers here,” he said, when a child seemed hesitant to answer a question.
Both groups were stumped when he discussed the rules for online behaviour (with computers, cellphones and other digital devices). The rules for online behaviour are intended to make people stop and think before making a post to Facebook, sending a text, blogging, or participating in other interactions.
“What is the Golden Rule?” he asked. Older folks will probably remember it: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (from the Bible). It seems to have fallen out of favour these days, and maybe that is why bullying has become such an issue. With a little help, though, students came up with answers like “Respect” and “Don’t say things you wouldn’t want someone else to say about you,” so obviously the concept is not completely lost.
The presentation showed the students that there are things you can do if you are being bullied. His own example proves that being bullied does not have the power to prevent you from succeeding.
Clark stayed afterward to answer questions, talk to the students and staff, sign autographs and simply hang out. One more thing that made the day special was that people got to meet his grandmother, Judy Clark, who had come with him “as company on the drive.” Their special relationship also inspired the students.
By Charlene Wirtz