ELLSWORTH — Young students at the James Russell Wiggins Down East Family YMCA childcare program are entering 2019 with anti-bullying practices under their snowsuits.
This fall, preschool students as well as school-age children in the Y’s afterschool program did exercises promoted by the National Bullying Prevention Center.
Jessica Montgomery, director of the childcare program, said the staff focused on “kindness and inclusion with our pre-K and toddler children.”
“We model this as teachers every day and place a significant importance on developing social and emotional skills in young children,” Montgomery said.
“We also designed activities that all children have a part in creating so that children feel a sense of belonging such as making posters for our Unity Day parade,” the director said. The children marched downtown with posters and orange apparel in celebration of Unity Day on Oct. 24.
The older students made “bullying action plans of what to do when they see a peer engage in name-calling or hurtful actions towards others,” Montgomery said. “The kids have made orange kindness chains and posters discussing what it looks like to be a friend.”
The childcare program also has resources for parents about bullying, cyber-bullying and what steps to take if they see children witness or display bullying behavior, the director said.
Were you taught not to “tattle” on others as a child? Times have changed a bit.
“We have been discussing with the children if you see something, say something to an adult,” Montgomery said. “Even if it may seem like tattling, it is important to let an adult know what the situation is and how the children are responding.
“This gives parents an opportunity to intervene and let children know we are listening as adults, we care and we want to help create a positive feeling or outcome.”
“There is a quote that resonates with what we teach and model for our youth both in our YMCA programs and in our community,” Montgomery said.
“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength; one is pushing down and the other is pulling up.” — Booker T. Washington
“I have used it throughout my work with children of all ages when I witness negative, hurtful behaviors towards others,” she said. I always then ask the children: ‘How strong are you?’”