The slam-dunking Ambassadors of Goodwill are using their basketball tricks and skills to bring the ABCs of Bullying Prevention to children across America.
“It’s been amazing,” said Buckets Blakes of the Harlem Globetrotters. “We have had some good feedback from teachers and principals. The kids love it.”
The ABC’s of Bullying Prevention are action, bravery and compassion. Children are taught how to identify and respond to bullying. Responsibility is placed on children’s shoulders for themselves and their peers.
Blakes said the children have been receptive to the messages.
“There are some kids who do not quite pay attention, but the rest of the kids become our little messages after we leave. Corporate receives emails from kids saying how they are treating others differently,” Blakes said.
Students are told there are various ways to prevent bullying. The first is to inform an adult or teacher. The second is to resist peer pressure. Students are encouraged to be brave by refusing to be a bully or engaging in negative talk.
The simple message of bullying prevention packs a punch.
“We also tell them to speak up for someone who cannot speak for themselves and to walk away when they are approached by a bully,” Blakes said.
Compassion for those who have been bullied is also encouraged. Blakes tells children the students who have been bullied often need friends. It is a good way for them to make a positive impact. Another way is for students to become active in community service through volunteer work.
Approximately 300 schools will hear the bullying prevention message as part of the Globetrotters’ North America tour, and will be making a stop in southeast Tennessee. Blakes said three or four kids and a teacher are chosen during every presentation. Each volunteer receives a move the Globetrotters help them to perform.
Doug Moore, past principal of E. L. Ross for ten years, said guest speakers offer a new voice for common topics.
“What we are looking for as school personnel when we bring people in is to expose kids to individuals they hold in respect,” Moore said.
He said children think sports figures are cool and hip. They may offer more attention to a message a Harlem Globetrotter presents over their teacher. The same message is being presented through different authority figures.
Reiteration without a feeling of repetition is the key.
“They are being exposed to different personalities and people who they might give their attention to more readily. We hope if the message is continuously driven home, then it will stick,” Moore said.
Blakes shares his personal experience with bullying to make the topic relatable for students. He tells them he was a really happy kid who caught the eye of a bully. The bully began calling him names and everyone began laughing.
So, Blakes started laughing as well.
“He got upset and began approaching me in a threatening manner. I began backing away while laughing and the he continued to follow me,” Blakes said. “I led him straight to my P.E. teacher.”
Blakes also reminds children to stay true to themselves.
“We are all unique in our own way. We are all different. We all have different thoughts, feelings and beliefs,” Blakes said.
“You want to figure out who you are and what you have to offer to the rest of the world. If you try to be someone else, then you are not going to find out what you have to offer the world.”
Blakes and his teammates can be seen this Friday performing their crowd pleasing Shenanigans at the McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga. The Globetrotters are celebrating 87 consecutive seasons by allowing fans to pick the rules online.
“This is the greatest job in the world. I have fun and, at the same time, I am working and travelling the world. I get to leave a positive impact,” Blakes said.