No bull(ying) about it

RHS mentors help elementary students fight bullying

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Josh Johnson of Youth Frontiers encourages Rogers Elementary School students to snap their fingers during one of the Kindness Retreat routines with a message of combating bullying. Twenty National Honor students from Rogers High School participated as mentors. (Photo by Aaron Brom)

Josh Johnson of Youth Frontiers encourages Rogers Elementary School students to snap their fingers during one of the Kindness Retreat routines with a message of combating bullying. Twenty National Honor students from Rogers High School participated as mentors. (Photo by Aaron Brom)

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Rogers Elementary School students got some help from Rogers High School Students in learning a powerful life lesson: by focusing on respect and value, every student can prevent or effectively deal with bullying and disrespect.

Fourth-graders took part in a Youth Frontiers Kindness Retreat at the Rogers Community Center. Twenty National Honor students from Rogers High School participated as mentors.

Rogers High School student Courtney McClay encourages audience participation as she is trailed closely by Rogers Elementary School student Jack Larson.

Rogers High School student Courtney McClay encourages audience participation as she is trailed closely by Rogers Elementary School student Jack Larson.

To help build a more respectful school culture, Youth Frontiers, a leading character education organization in the Upper Midwest, partnered with Rogers Elementary School in to host a comprehensive retreat to help reduce bullying. Through initiatives that focus on the importance of being respected and valued, Youth Frontiers delivers programs that build positive school communities and strengthen student character in schools across the country.

Part of the positive thinking was to get every student involved. At the retreat, RHS students and Youth Frontiers leaders got the elementary students enthused and pumped up for the message, at one point creating a “human train” where everyone in the room was linked while dancing to music with a positive message.

Courtney Steeves from Rogers High School helps get a human train going during the Kindness Retreat.

Courtney Steeves from Rogers High School helps get a human train going during the Kindness Retreat.

The students also gathered for various informative discussions to help them find the tools necessary to combat bullying.

For more than 24 years, Youth Frontiers’ retreats seek to teach  students how to incorporate the values of kindness, courage, respect and integrity into their personal and school lives. The Twin Cities-based organization aims to strengthen core values, confront negative behaviors

and enable students to recognize the consequences of their actions. Last year, the nationally renowned nonprofit had more than 600 retreats for nearly 100,000 students and educators. Since its inception, Youth Frontiers has reached more than one million students.

“We teach values unapologetically,” says Youth Frontiers Founder and CEO Joe Cavanaugh. “Our mission is to change the way students treat each other in every hallway, lunch line and classroom of every school in America. We are not succeeding as a society if our children receive an ‘A’ in Math… and an ‘F’ in life.”

Youth Frontiers uses interactive games, music, small  discussion groups and stories to break down walls between young people, helping them to see each  other differently. Throughout the retreat day, students begin to exhibit traits of true character – mending relationships, stating acts of courage and respecting themselves and others. Comprehensive follow-up materials also provide a way for educators and students to extend the impact of the retreat.

“I have witnessed how strongly our youth respond to positive messages,” Cavanaugh said.

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