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AN ARTISTIC SOLUTION TO SCHOOL BULLYING

www.insidetoronto.com
Community News - North York Mirror,
Sunday; February 19, 2003

Managing editor: Bernie O’Neill
By Justin Skinner Mirror Staff

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Students at a few local schools are using construction paper and glue sticks to create more than fridge-worthy art.

Students at Elkhorn Public School, Blythwood Junior Public School and Glenview Senior Public School are using their creativity and artistic talents to show ways of dealing with bullying. The project, dubbed Journey Into Peace, was devised by local artist Carol Knowlton-Dority.

The six-lesson plan teaches students to be self-reliant and helps them find their own ways of working through being bullied or dealing with other difficult situations. “Art can be used to discuss things that are challenging to talk about,” Knowlton-Dority said. “This project helps kids process the information and personalize it so that they find solutions that work for them.”

Journey Into Peace is a six-session progam with each session lasting 90 minutes. Over the course of the program, students learn to respond to challenges through self-reliance, accept and appreciate differences between themselves and others, explore the differences between conflict and bullying and work out their own ways to deal with bullies. “It can all be tied to the curriculum, and the kids are very receptive because it’s art,” Knowlton-Dority said. “Because it’s so personal, you establish up front that everything is acceptable if it was reached through an honest process from the individual.”

Students are encouraged to illustrate their “oppressive place” and their “peaceful place” and build a bridge that represents their own means of travelling from one to the other. Grade 5 students at Elkhorn Public School made spirals,, springs and arches to represent their own ways of dealing with bullying or other difficult situations. ‘

Bridge Makes Point

Student Steven Ming created a bridge that demonstrated his technique for handling problems: “The bridge shows that you should be peaceful and always remain calm,” he said. Students were also encouraged to look at positive role models such as Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa, who used courage to overcome huge obstacles in a non-violent way. The lessons taught throughout Journey Into Peace resonated with the youngsters. “Thete are a lot of emotions that people have when they’re being bullied, and one thing you can do is use humour to get through it,” said fifth grader Lucas Strezos. Fellow student Ori Solomon said the program helped him gain insight into the nature of bullying. ‘
“I learned that bullying is not always beating someone up, it can also be insulting people,” he said.

Elkhorn Public School teacher Kathryn Tanguay said the program was useful for her students even though bullying was not prevalent at the North York school. By creating an open discussion about the problem, it gave students a sense that they could let their feelings be known about the often difficult-to-broach subject. “It gives them the vocabulary and the confidence to deal with the problem,” she said. “These students are in Grade five, so they’re moving on to middle school next year. We want to make sure they have the right tools to deal with difficult situations.”

By personalizing the experience for students, the program provides more applicable solutions than a simple lecture about bullying would achieve, and by integrating art, it creates a relaxed environment that encourages participation. Knowlton-Dority said the schools with which she has worked have been remarkably accommodating, which is crucial to success. “You can’t do these things quickly, and it’s a big time commitment for the schools,” she said, “I’ve been lucky to have a lot of support in terms of them giving the students the time they need to explore these ideas.”

Fifth graders at Elkhorn Public School wrapped up their Journey Into Peace sessions Thursday afternoon. Fifth arid sixth graders at Blythwood Junior Public School will have two more sessions and seventh graders at Glenview Senior Public School will continue with the program until March Break.

Carol Knowlton-Dority, Artist/Educator B.A., B.Ed.
For information regarding Journey Into Peace: A Bullying Prevention Program through Visual Arts, Contact the artist »


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Copyright © 2008, 2010, 2016 • Carol Knowlton-Dority • Toronto, Ontario, Canada