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Student-athletes teach anti-bullying in grade schools

November 7, 2012

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Contact: John Hartrick (hartrick@binghamton.edu)

VESTAL, N.Y.—Binghamton student-athletes continued their commitment to community service with a program at Vestal Hills Elementary School this week. Eight student-athletes took part in a “No Bystanders” leadership program that aims to curtail cyber-bullying and bullying in general.

The Binghamton University students, representing four different sports teams, worked with more than 50 fifth-graders on two school visits. They offered ways to recognize and combat bullying and also taught the young students the importance of friendship, trust, courage and leadership. After opening games and discussion, the kids broke into smaller groups and planned and performed skits together. The role-playing and reinforced behavior helped further the message of inclusiveness and caring.

Front and center in Wednesday’s hour-long presentation was sophomore heavyweight wrestler Tyler Deuel, whose blend of brawn and anti-bullying words was an important visual message for the young kids. Joining Deuel were women’s soccer players Jamie Holliday, Kerry Sullivan and Emily Pape, volleyball player Alex Roland and cross country and track athletes Abigail Elliott, Caitlin Jelinek and Carly Kiess.

Spearheaded locally by BU assistant athletics director Kim King, the “No Bystanders” program offers the following goals:

- Create a principles-based cyber-bullying program, promoting positive youth development for fifth- and sixth-grad students
- Promote the students as leaders within the community
- Develop a relationship of trust among the student body
- Create an environment of positive peer pressure through courage, empathy, leadership and humility by emphasizing Virtues in Action
- Increase the principles and awareness of what cyber-bullying is and how it affects people within our society as a whole
- Establish an efficient process to combat cyber-bullying
- Provide students with the necessary resources to combat cyber-bullying
- Create empathy in students so bystanders speak out against cyber-bullying
- Remove the false sense of power felt in cyberspace

The program was researched and developed by the State University of New York Youth Sports Institute, located at SUNY Cortland. 

“Research has shown that peers are more able to influence young people, in terms of ending bullying and cyber-bullying,” King said. “We want these kids to be courageous, to stand up and be a good friend and trust and work with others. This was a good group of school kids to work with. They were very engaged and excited to be here.”

“I thought it was really cool,” fifth-grader Ashley Sinicki said. “We learned a lot about not bullying other kids. I had fun and really liked the skits.”

The fifth-graders weren’t the only ones who gained from the experience.

“I thought the kids could really relate to us,” Elliott said. “I want to step into the community as a teacher so I love working with kids and helping them learn.”

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