Students and teachers at Mecca Glen School took pride Thursday, Oct. 9 with the implementation of a bullying-prevention program that is intended to change the way stakeholders look at the issue.
Last year the school received funding to implement the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, which is a program designed to change the culture of bullying in schools, explained principal Alger Libby.
That first year was a year of training for staff and a small committee that learned how the program works.
“This is the first exposure the kids are going to have to it,” said Libby of the Thursday’s activity.
Three teachers, a social worker, two parents representing the older and younger students and a community representative make up the committee spearheading the program. Libby looks forward to seeing positive results over the course of the year.
“It’s not just a way of getting kids to stop bullying, it’s a way of life; a paradigm shift,” said Libby.
They approach behavioral issues rather than target the person making the offence.
“It’s not targeting or even labeling the offenders…there’s care for using bullying behaviour as well,” explained Pastor Ted Hill, a member of committee who also teaches the religion class.
“It’s very much about shaping the atmosphere of the whole school,” he added.
Libby says weekly classroom meetings are scheduled for the entire school to open up conversations about any issues students are working on. Hill added they intend to adopt all parts of the program as the best results appear to come when schools wholly commit to it.
“You can talk about what’s going on in the playground,” offered Libby.
Ponoka RCMP Staff Sgt. Cameron Chisholm helped bring the Olweus program to the Mecca Glen and Crestomere Schools as a pilot project. He hopes to see Wolf Creek Public Schools adopt the program district wide.
“I’m looking forward to seeing positive results in bullying (prevention),” said Chisholm.
He told students that bullying issues affect a student’s work, mental health and self-esteem and this program addresses those challenges.
Funds to start the program and provide training were made possible with a grant from the Ponoka Family and Community Support Services.