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Bully Proof Your Kids

On January 25, 2016

Tip # 3, Model Positive Problem Solving Behaviors

If every student has been, or will be bullied at some point (which is the case based on my research), it’s smart to prepare students in advance. This isn’t being pessimistic; I’d just rather be proactive then reactive. It starts with modeling positive, confident, assertive (not aggressive), problem solving behaviors.

Students are watching us, taking cues based on our interactions, so it’s important that we remember, and are aware of our position as role models. Although we are parents and educators, we’re also humans, prone to falling into bad habits, or patterns of behavior, so let’s not kick ourselves. However, it’s precisely in these moments, our moments of conflict or frustration with others, that we need to raise our game.

Taking a deep breath, and dealing with these situations in a calm, compassionate and confident manner, will have a far greater impact on your students, then any amount of advice. The phrase may go “Do as I say, not as I do” however the opposite is true when it comes to influencing students, your actions speak far louder than words.

Rehearsing suitable language and phrasing, as well as problem solving techniques with students will begin to grow their confidence. Like any muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it becomes. The compassion you bring to this process, and demonstrate during your own moments of conflict, is how empathy will be fostered in your students.

Here’s your chance to BE A HERO!

On December 16, 2015

Imagine becoming Santa’s helper, by delivering heartfelt gifts to at-risk and homeless youth in your community. Imagine the smiles you would bring. Can you think of a better way to spend Christmas morning? This holiday you can be a real life hero by donating your time, unwrapped gifts or money to Holiday Heroes, organized by Heroes In Black.

My friend and philanthropist, Matte Black, once homeless himself, founded Heroes In Black to give hope back to Toronto’s homeless. Holiday Heroes is just their latest campaign to help feed, educate and empower Toronto’s less fortunate.

Support Heroes in Black in their life transforming work; together we can make a difference.

Donate today!

Donate to their Indiegogo Campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/holiday-heroes#/

Event details can be found at: http://www.heroesinblack.com/events.html or https://www.facebook.com/events/1728392724055913/#

Tickets to the event can be purchased at: http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/holiday-heroes-tickets-19384546701

Holiday Heroes

 

Look for the helpers

On October 2, 2015

Do you remember Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood? This program was a staple in children’s television for over three decades. I have many fond memories of watching our friendly neighbor, tie up his shoes, button up his cardigan, and head out on an adventure of discovery right in his own backyard. Well it ends up; his Mother was pretty wise too.

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“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
― Fred Rogers

This small shift in focus can change everything for a child, and for us. Try it; find a picture of a disaster. I simply Googled “picture of disaster”; then looked for the helpers. I was surprised with what I found. Yes, I found a lot of devastation, but in nearly every image, there were helpers. It didn’t matter where in the world the disaster was, there were the helpers.

If the evening news was an accurate reflection of our world, we’d all be doomed. However, most news broadcasts look at the world through a very narrow lens; basically, the scarier the better. Unfortunately by playing to our baser instincts, they aim to ensure optimum viewership. Try not to look at the car accident as you pass, it’s instinctual, and this is how they lure us in.

The problem is they’re only reporting part of the story, and not the part that encourages or inspires. My friend Suzanne Bernier, an internationally recognized emergency management consultant is the author of “Disaster Heroes”. She tells the stories of ordinary men, women and children who have done extraordinary things to help respond, recover and rebuild following some of the world’s most significant modern disasters.

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Prior to her career in crisis management, Suzanne was a news reporter and anchor, as well as government press secretary/communications advisor and speechwriter. Since then she has personally be involved in crises such as the 1998 “Ice Storm of the Century” in Eastern Canada, the 2003 Northeast Blackout, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, the H1N1 pandemic, as well as numerous floods, fires, severe storms and reputational crises.

What has made her so effective in crisis management has been her focus. She is solution based and always seeks out the helpers. They’re there, we just have to change our focus, and we can begin to see hope in seemingly hopeless situations. In fact we all have the ability to be helpers. However, it is when apathy and fear cloud our judgement that we turn from helpers into bystanders. So we need to consistently focus on what we want to see more of, and exercise compassion through action whenever possible.

Action Ideas:

  • Create a game or assignment for your students which encourages them to seek out the helpers.The affects from this change in focus can be very powerful.
  • Get Suzanne Bernier’s amazing book “Disaster Heroes”
  • Consider bringing the “School Heroes Unite” bullying prevention program to your school. Thisprogram celebrates diversity, fosters empathy, and brings out your students’ inner hero. It has all the spirit of a pep rally but with a magical twist, and provides students with real tools and a plan of action.

Award Winning Magician, Speaker, Author & former YTV Personality
Scott Dietrich
416 580 5522
scott@schoolheroesunite.com
www.schoolheroesunite.com

Bully Proof Your Kids

On April 27, 2015

Tip #2, Demystify Tattling

There is a big difference between tattling and telling. This is an important distinction to be made, and one that many principals request I cover during my presentations. The “B” word is thrown around a lot these days, but not all conflict “Bullying”. However, many adults, let alone children understand how to engage in positive conflict resolution. Thus, conflicts can escalate into bullying or perceived bullying.

I think the bigger issue we’re facing is that of the bystander. When bullying behaviors go unchecked, because no one wants to step up and speak out. The fear of being labeled a tattletale or becoming the target of bullying themselves keeps good kids quiet.

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Informing a teacher or parent if someone is intentionally hurting him/her or another student, is not tattling. This is the behavior of an upstander. I’ll often use the example of Laura Secord, known to most children more for her great chocolate then her heroism during the war of 1812, but still a shining example of the importance of speaking up.

In addition to students understanding the difference between tattling and telling, and being given and role modeled healthy conflict resolution, the other important piece is fostering a team mentality at your school. Our motto is summed up in our programs name, School Heroes Unite. We aim to not only unleash student’s inner heroes, but to unite as a team, and have each other’s back.

Why Pink Shirt Day Is Important

On January 29, 2015

Solidarity. There are only a handful of days each year that we all come together for a common purpose–and none as stylish as Pink Shirt Day. Just like a Poppy represents support for our veterans, a pink shirt indicates awareness, empathy, and solidarity for those who have been, or are being bullied.

Bullying can be extremely isolating, so for those students to see their entire school stand in solidarity against bullying is extremely liberating. What it also shows is that bullying affects, or has affected us all.

Travis Price, the co-founder of Pink Shirt Day, and I were both speakers at the 2014 Hero Round Table conference in Flint, MI. Travis is the one standing in the middle, pictured with my fiance and myself. He and his friend David Shepherd started Pink Shirt Day in an attempt to stand up for a fellow student who was being bullied for simply wearing a pink shirt to school. This act of solidarity has become a international movement.

Pink Shirt Day Pic with Travis Price

The only problem with Pink Shirt Day is, it’s only one day. There are 365 days in a year, so a plan of action is needed in order to perpetuate this sentiment throughout the year. That’s where School Heroes Unite comes in.

School Heroes Unite is a one hour presentation designed to cultivate a new culture of heroism and teamwork at your school. Through the use of magic, music, video, storytelling and audience participation, School Heroes Unite will engage and captivate your students. It has all the spirit of a pep rally but provides students with real tools and a plan of action.

Make Pink Shirt Day matter this year, by fostering lasting change through solidarity, heroism and teamwork.

Your Partner in Heroism,
Scott Dietrich

The Importance of Consistency

On November 27, 2014

Bullying Prevention Week may have ended, but bullying hasn’t. This important campaign was conceived back in 2003 by Bill Belsey. Its purpose was/is to “raise awareness about bullying… while promoting positive relationships and providing youth with real-life solutions”. 11 years later Bullying Prevention Week is still going strong, and being implemented in schools right across Canada.

The problem is it’s only a week. There are 52 weeks in a year and approximately 40 weeks in a school year. Without consistency, any momentum or progress made during Bullying Prevention Week will fade, and fast. Then our collective focus is on to the next thing, having mentally checked bullying off our list.

We see this pattern repeated over and over in our society. Remember Live 8? Live 8 was a number of benefit concerts organized during the summer of 2005. It was in support of the UK’s Make Poverty History campaign, and timed to precede the G8 summit. It succeeded in getting the G8 leaders to double their aid to poor nations from $25 billion to $50 billion over a 6 year period (between 2004 – 2010). Half the money was to go to Africa. That was great, and quite an accomplishment, but hardly solved Africa’s problems when its debt alone was over $200 billion.

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It is not my aim to harp on Live 8, nor diminish its accomplishments. Cynicism is one of the most harmful attitudes infesting our society, and grinds positive progress to a halt. The problem however was after Live 8, we all collectively breathed a sigh of relief, patted ourselves on the back, and moved onto the next compelling cause, not having finished what we started. For further insight read “Race Against Time” by Stephen Lewis.

Bullying has existed for a very long time, so it will require a collective and consistent effort to combat it. This is why the central focus of the School Heroes Unite program is the creation of a student inspired Action Plan. This is a list of easy, but impactful ways students can step-up and be heroes for each other. At the end of the presentation the students pledge to take at least 2 – 3 of these actions every day. This list is then posted in their classrooms as a daily reminder.

This type of collective consistency is what lays the framework for lasting change. School Heroes Unite is committed to helping schools combat bullying through the heroism, teamwork and empathy. No single bullying prevention program will end bullying; but a school of students and staff committed to making daily acts of kindness can. Let School Heroes Unite Help!

I love Halloween. It’s the only holiday which both children and adults are given free rein, to dress up and make-believe. A child can be a Super Hero for the day, while their teacher becomes a Disney Princess or Zombie Rock Star. The rules of this parallel universe are observed without question for 24 glorious hours. But like in Cinderella, although not at the stroke of midnight, our costumes get packed up and tucked away for another year.

To see adults play and make-believe again is a beautiful thing. For a child to be allowed to express themselves in a safe social environment, is a beautiful thing. When entire communities open their doors to local children and share without expectation, that is a beautiful thing. So I would like to suggest that the spirit of Halloween, not the customs of that specific day, be observed all year.

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What am I proposing exactly? With Bullying Awareness Week right around the corner, we needn’t tuck away that creative, playful, abundant, giving side of ourselves with our Halloween costumes. Now not all costumes represent positive, peaceful, or giving characteristics. So to be clear, this is not the “spirit” of Halloween I’m proposing we continue throughout the year. Rather, that sense of possibility “what am I going to be this year?”.

How can we, as a school community be more inclusive and accepting? How can we squeeze more play into our day (grow-ups especially)? How can we step up, and encourage our students to step? How can we contribute, and encourage our student’s to contribute? And how can we share more of that hero that lives within each of us?

I challenge parents and educators to ask yourselves these questions. Ask a better question, get a better answer. The School Heroes Unite program is designed to unleash your student’s inner hero, while fostering teamwork and empathy. We’re here to help. Keep the creative, inclusive, playful and giving spirit of Halloween alive. Bring School Heroes Unite to your school!

Happy Halloween!

Michelle is a recent graduate from Regal Road Public School in Toronto, and the founder of the “Be You: Anti Bullying Club”. She is the embodiment of what School Heroes Unite aims to foster in students.

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Michelle was bullied in grades 4 and 5, but rather than be the victim of her circumstances, she chose to be a hero. She realized she wasn’t the only student being bullied, and that’s when she decided to create the “Be You: Anti Bullying Club”. In March of this year I had the privilege of giving a special School Heroes Unite presentation at Michelle’s school, and helped reveal that she was to be given a special award through the TDSB.

Michelle is a great example of what’s possible, but I believe that all students have the potential to be heroes for one another. They simply need a plan of action, and the commitment as a school to take these small actions every day. When an entire school makes this commitment, as they do with School Heroes Unite, and the staff supports and encourages the students, truly magical and healing results can occur.

Bring School Heroes Unite to your school and through the development of heroism, empathy and teamwork foster the next Michelle Lewis’ in our community.

Sarah Watkin is in many respects an ordinary 7 year old. She enjoys playing with her friends, creating art, bike rides with her Dad and loves being a big sister. Her ordinary life took a dramatic change, when at the age of 5 she was diagnosed with a life threatening illness, Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) an aggressive form of childhood leukemia. She was given a bleak 50% chance of survival.

The past two years have been extremely difficult for Sarah and the Watkin family. But they are fighters, and rather than turn to despair, they turned to hope. This is how Sarah’s Drive for Hope began. This Facebook group allowed the family to share their journey and educate people about the importance of blood and bone marrow donation. Through the attention Sarah’s Drive for Hope has created, people have heroically stepped up to the plate, and lives are being saved.

As I always preach, you can’t control circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. Victimhood is a choice, as is heroism. Sarah is a hero. And she quite unexpectedly walked into my life 3 weeks ago. I’ve entertained thousands of children over the past 4 years at the Montana’s where I perform (bi-weekly), but Sarah was unforgettable. Her smile is infectious, and she appreciated my magic so much that made she me a thank you card out of the paper table cloth.

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When Sarah and her and her family came back to see me two weeks later, I was thrilled. Her parents were touched when I told them Sarah’s card had made it onto my refrigerator. It was that day that her father told me about the challenges Sarah had been facing, and how heroically she had been facing them. It’s not often that you find a magician speechless, but I was overcome, and inspired. I jumped at the opportunity, when only I a few days later I had the privilege of performing for Sarah again at a special surprise event. I was even more tickled to discover she’s an aspiring magician herself.

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For the past two years Sarah has continued to make lemonade out of the lemons she’s been dealt. Her and her family have brought much needed attention to blood and bone marrow donation, and for this I, on behalf of School Heroes Unite would like to honor “Super Sarah Watkin”. Please help Sarah, and all those who suffer from life threatening illnesses in need of bone marrow and blood. Please contact www.onematch.ca and become a bone marrow or blood donor. Be a hero and save a life!

Scott Dietrich

Bully-Proof Your Kids

On April 15, 2014

school-heroes-united-stvincent-antibullyingTip #1, Share Your Story

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness.”
Brene Brown

We cannot expect of our children, what we are not willing to give ourselves. The willingness to be vulnerable is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of true strength, self acceptance and empathy.

Being vulnerable, and sharing your experiences of bullying and how they affected you, will allow and encourage your child to do the same. Many children suffer in silence, too afraid or embarrassed to speak up. Breaking the silence is the first step.

Keep those vital lines of communication open, and reinforce to your child there is no shame in being frightened. Not only will this improve the communication and connection between you and your child, you’ll be the proof they need that it does gets better.From this safe new place of acceptance and relatability, you and your child can begin to discuss their feelings, and potential strategies for your child to stand up, speak up and avoid further bullying.