U-M athletes teach AAPS students to address bullying

An AAPS student shares a response to an anti-bullying activity at the second annual Block Out Bullying event Sept. 20, 2013.
An AAPS student shares a response to an anti-bullying activity at the second annual Block Out Bullying event Sept. 20, 2013.

Sept. 20, 2013

By Tara Cavanaugh

Over 1,300 Ann Arbor Public Schools third-sixth graders learned how to deal with bullying from some influential people: student athletes at the University of Michigan.

The second annual Block Out Bullying event, which took place Sept. 20 at U-M’s Crisler Arena, taught AAPS students from Allen, Bach, Logan, Pattengill and Thurston elementary schools as well as Clague Middle School how to recognize and respond to bullying situation.

“Our student athletes have a great platform,” said U-M volleyball coach Mark Rosen.  “Kids look up to them and think they never would have been exposed to something like that, so for our athletes to be able to relate their own experiences is really beneficial. Because the majority of athletes at one time or another have been ostracized because they’re different.”

Athletes from basketball, hockey, rowing, gymnastics, baseball and lacrosse teams volunteered to guide students through activities that illustrated how to identify victims of bullying behavior and the different kinds of bullying that can take place: physical, verbal, online and indirect.

“To me the interesting thing is that we have some pretty famous people here talking with us about bullying,” said Hollis Riggs, a fourth grader at Allen. “They’re saying a lot of stuff I didn’t know about before, like what cyberbullying is –– online bullying on the computer.”

“I think everyone’s been bullied to some extent,” said U-M hockey player Derek Deblois. “It’s good to help the kids be more aware and realize that it can happen at all stages in life.”

Learning to address bullying dovetails nicely with Positive Behavior Intervention and Support, the district’s behavioral curriculum for elementary students, said Logan Principal Terra Webster. “We’re trying to get our students to see that when bullying happens, there really isn’t an innocent bystander. If you see something, say something.”

Webster added that she was particularly grateful that U-M athletics paid for the cost of busing for the AAPS students to attend.

The students were also treated to a volleyball match between U-M and Marshall and to a special message from Tim Hardaway, Jr., a former U-M basketball player who now plays for the New York Knicks.

“We have such tremendous support from the community it’s our responsibility for us to give back,” Coach Rosen said. “This is a great way for us to give back and hopefully make our local community a better place.”

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  1. Sounds like a great program. I’m just wondering why some schools participated and not others?

  2. Janine, schools that could fit the event into their schedules attended today. U-M attempts to offer its special events to as many AAPS schools as possible.

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