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Kids learn how to stand up to bullying

Laura Barton

By Laura Barton, Tribune Staff

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.

lbarton@postmedia.com

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