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On December 10, 2013, I was invited to help out with an anti bullying full day program run by Dare to Care called “Take the Time“. Along with 20 other adults, 2 Dare to Care Facilitators and roughly 100 grade 7 & 8 boys and girls, we spent the day talking about a variety of topics in several different formats. Due to my respect for Dare to Care and for the confidentiality of everyone who was a part of it, I won’t be sharing specific stories about the kids or adults and will keep the details very general.

Going into the day, I was skeptical but it was mostly naivety because I really didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure how a program led by two people could have a real, meaningful impact on grade 7 and 8 boys and girls. Well, after the introduction from Kim, and a roughly 10 minute monologue from Dwayne, I knew I was going to be a part of something special. Dwayne’s talk was more passionate and well put together than most TED talks I’ve seen. Dwayne is a retired police officer, and spent the last 7 years of his career working as a School Resource Officer.

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They touched on many topics that affected today’s youth including a section on cutting (which I had never heard of and quickly learned that it’s a big and scary deal among teen girls). Knowing that some of the girls in the room were cutting really put things into perspective for me about how serious this was and there isn’t one single solution.

What I really liked about the program is that rather than the facilitators talking to the kids the whole time, there was a ton of group activities that encouraged individual participation. Too often, kids will do what their friends do and the Dare to Care facilitators made sure to try and keep kids apart from their friends so they could actively engage on their own based on their own feelings and experiences. Some of the activities were incredibly powerful and emotional and there were always a few kids crying or breaking down and needing a hug. I even got emotional during a few of the activities because it brought back memories about how I felt at times as a kid – scared, alone and judged. Not good feelings that’s for sure.

I learned about the hierarchy of schools which really opened my eyes to how the social structure is the same no matter where you go – work, a group of friends, your sports team. Power imbalance exists everywhere and rather than this triangle shaped social structure, Dwayne and Kim challenged the teachers and parents to envision a circle shape school community where everyone supports each other. What a great world it would be if this were the case more often in our various social circles.

The last activity of the day had the most impact, in which Dwayne and Kim opened the floor to anyone who has ever bullied someone else to come up to the mic, name the kid(s) they bullied and apologize to them. It was so powerful watching grade 7 and 8 boys and girls apologizing to each other but honestly, it wouldn’t have had the same impact without the other activities during the day. Truly this was an incredible opportunity and experience and I’m so grateful that Paulette, the Guidance Counselor from Oilfields High School, invited me to be one of the facilitators on this day.

This experience opened my eyes to some of the challenges that kids face and has given me a different perspective on how to talk to them – learning to listen more and talk less – and encouraging them to share. Before this experience, I thought that I was going to be able to talk to kids for 10 minutes about bullying and really help them out but after this experience I realized that there is so much more to the issue than I first realized.

More About Rob

I incorporate the bullying theme into my talk and I share my personal experience about how I was bullied as a young boy figure skater and how I turned that into a positive rather than a negative. I am available to speak to schools, sports teams, youth groups and corporations to leave a message of inspiration, positivity and hope.

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More About Dare to Care

The Dare to Care program is a fully comprehensive approach to dealing with bullying and challenges within school communities. You can find out more about the Take the Time program here:

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