Kids learn how to stand up to bul­ly­ing

The Niagara Falls Review - - OPINION - Lbar­ton@post­media.com twit­ter.com/LBar­tonTri­bune

LAURA BAR­TON

POST­MEDIA NEWS

More than 900 kids from 12 Ni­a­gara schools were at Brock Univer­sity Thurs­day to hear about how they can stand up to bul­ly­ing.

The kids were there for Brock’s Bad­gers vs. Bul­ly­ing event, an an­nual ef­fort to share mes­sages of anti-bul­ly­ing and en­gage kids in con­ver­sa­tion about how they can make a dif­fer­ence.

“It’s a re­ally great way to talk about so­cial well­ness,” said Han­nah Pass, or­ga­nizer of the event that was started by Brock men’s bas­ket­ball coach Charles Kissi three years ago.

Kissi was one of the speak­ers at the event, and had two im­por­tant mes­sages to share: If you are bul­lied, you are not alone, and if you are a bully there is help for you, too.

“Chances are you’re not a bad per­son,” he told any kids in the crowd who might be bul­lies. “Not ev­ery­body is bad … peo­ple make poor de­ci­sions and it doesn’t mean they’re damned for the rest of their lives.

“Change is pos­si­ble. Peo­ple will for­give you, and ev­ery day I chal­lenge you and urge you to strive to be bet­ter.”

Alex Di­ge­nis, owner and gen­eral man­ager of Hen­ley Honda/ Subaru of Ni­a­gara, shared his per­sonal story of be­ing bul­lied and how kids can help each other if they see some­one get­ting bul­lied.

He said it’s up to each in­di­vid­ual to make a choice to get in­volved in­stead of stand­ing by and watch­ing the bul­ly­ing hap­pen.

His mes­sage about not be­ing a by­s­tander tied in neatly to Ni­a­gara River Lions guard Joe Rocco’s story of watch­ing one of his teams bully some­one when he was younger. He said it wasn’t un­til he saw the per­son cry­ing in the locker room one day that he re­ally un­der­stood how bul­ly­ing im­pacted peo­ple.

He said that mo­ment changed ev­ery­thing for him.

“One per­son in this gym can make a dif­fer­ence right away,” he said to the kids.

Brock vice-pres­i­dent of ad­min­is­tra­tion Brian Hutch­ings en­cour­aged kids to live their dreams and not let any­thing hold them back.

Af­ter the speak­ers, the kids were treated to a pizza lunch and an ex­hi­bi­tion game between the Brock Bad­gers and Redeemer Univer­sity Col­lege Roy­als men’s bas­ket­ball teams.

Pass said the kids al­ways have a great time at this and other sim­i­lar events that Brock hosts. She said they also of­ten get feed­back that the kids go home talk­ing about how much fun they had and the lessons they learned.

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