BY DAN NEWMAN
Peace Dynamics Consultants George Anthony and Lindy Crescitelli show Fairview Elementary School fifth-graders how bullies act in front of weaker kids during the "Stand Up and Lead" anti-bullying workshop last Wednesday.MIDDLETOWN - For so many young people, being bullied and taunted has almost become commonplace in school, as the way a person dresses or speaks can become fodder for others who want to feel superior.
On Oct. 25, students at Fairview Elementary School got a lesson in how to do just the opposite - how to be a leader and how to potentially resolve a conflict.
"Stand Up and Lead: Teaching Our Students to Be Peacemakers" was brought to the school by George Anthony and Lindy Crescitelli of Peace Dynamics Consultants. The duo has presented their program in districts throughout the state. Crescitelli said that no matter where they go, whether it's an urban or bucolic environment, kids are really the same.
"Our main purpose every place we go is to give kids the necessary skills that they can utilize in an everyday situation," Crescitelli said. "Every kid can be a bully or a victim. The key to our whole program is reinforcement and letting them know what to do, and how to do the right things."
Anthony, in his sixth year of doing the program, explained that while the program is designed for all kids ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade, there are certain facets that are tailor-made for each age level.
"We always have the same pitch or presentation, but we just do it in a different way," Anthony said. "With the older kids, we discuss things like alcohol and drugs because that's what they're learning about in class. With the younger kids, we don't do that."
The pair also wanted kids to learn simple life lessons they may not have thought about prior to watching the program. They wanted young people to realize that conflicts can occur within a person, and that even if someone does walk away from a fight it doesn't mean that things are okay.
Crescitelli and Anthony explained that talking things out is always the best way."You need to know that there is always a way to handle things the right way," Anthony told an assembled group of about 35 fifth-graders. "Everyone in this room can be a leader, but there's also negative leaders, ones who boss people around or cause problems for others. And if you do walk away from a fight, you're still left with a problem. We want you to know what to do and how to solve the problem."
"Using the word 'I' instead of 'you' is a smart move," Anthony explained. "Instead of blaming the other person, you take on the responsibility yourself."
School Principal Matthew Kirkpatrick was appreciative that the program made its way to his school.
"One kid really can make a difference and I think that the speakers definitely got through to the kids," Kirkpatrick said. "I think the kids can get a lot out of what went on today."