By LIBBY CLUETT
Being bullied is no fun. And because it sometimes happens, recently Houston Elementary students learned ways to deflect a bully's attack.
Not only did they learn how to be “Stronger than a Bully” from Dave Mitchell with Mobile Ed Productions, they had some hardy belly laughs during the presentation.
Mitchell used fun puppets, showing his skills as a ventriloquist, storyteller and comedian, to inform children how to “S-M-I-L-E” when faced by a bully. The technique stands for:
• Stay cool and don't engage in the bully's attack.
• Make eye contact, don't look down.
• Identify the attack to determine whether it's verbal or physical.
• Lead positive conversation.
• Erase it, meaning forget about it.
He used a bit of magic to show how, like a stick of dynamite, to diffuse a bully. He also combined storytelling to tell about the golden rule – treating others the way you would want to be treated.
Using a rabbit puppet, Mitchell demonstrated a verbal attack and “taught” the rabbit what to do when faced with an insult to his looks and long ears. Houston students laughed out loud several times during this skit.
Five students volunteered to help on stage with a trick using the letters to “Smile.” While Mitchell appeared to impress the crowd by guessing which letter each child took, he seemingly stunned the crowd with his “eye pad.” This started out as a seemingly simple dry-erase board that he drew the face of a bully on to use while telling a story. The face ended up having eyes and a mouth that moved, which sent some students to their teachers' sides and caused many gaping mouths among the audience of 250 second-graders.
A final puppet helped teach children about physically abusive bullies and how to employ the SMILE technique in these cases.
“I look out and I don't see one person who deserves to be bullied,” Mitchell said, concluding by asking students to be a H-E-R-O and “help out,” “empathize,” “respond” and “open conversation” with others, while treating others as they would want to be treated themselves.