If the children of Driftwood Public School were left with one message from Harlem Globetrotters Handles Chris Franklin and Fatima “TNT” Maddox it would be this: Bullying is not cool.
“I think everyone in one point in their life has come across bullying,” said Maddox. “I think that it’s really important that we come and talk to the youth so that they have something that they can build from.”
As a part of their visit to the school at Jane Street and Finch Avenue on Tuesday, Feb. 5, Maddox and Franklin discussed the Harlem Globetrotters ABCs of bullying prevention, mixed in with a few ball-handling tricks and skills that floored the grades 1 to 5 students in attendance.
The A stands for action: Franklin encouraged the students to “take a stand against bullying” by telling a parent, teacher or principal.
'I think everyone in one point in their life has come across bullying.'
The B means bravery: “Don’t join in,” said Franklin.
And C is for compassion: “Care about each other. If you see someone who doesn’t have many friends go and be their friend,” said Franklin.
Both Maddox and Franklin played games with some the kids and teachers in between teaching them about how bullying affects others. One of the game’s winners was Adenike Olaosebikan, a Grade 2 student.
“Bullying is not good because it makes other people feel bad about themselves and makes them cry,” Adenike said.
Principal Debi Lavine said bullying happens at her school, but the children need to learn the difference between bullying and fighting.
“I find some of the challenges are that they play rough and then they play fight and the play fights turn into real fights,” said Lavine. “And then that’s when they come in and use the words, ‘He was bullying me’ when actually it was just play fighting that got out of hand.”
To help stop bullying, Driftwood reminds students every morning of the code of conduct at the school and tries to stop bullying as it happens.
The school has also organized Parents for Peace, consisting of teachers and parents who want to put a stop to bullying. The group recently received a $1,000 Parents Reaching Out (PRO) grant from the Ministry of Education to run anti-bullying workshops for parents.
In addition to their anti-bullying message, the Harlem Globetrotters encouraged children to stay in school and continue their education, and to always believe in themselves, something Maddox couldn’t stress enough since she is the first female player to join the team in 20 years.
For Adenike, whose favorite Globetrotter is Maddox, one another message was clear.
“Never give up on your dreams and never let anyone tell you, you can’t do something,” she said.