THS students mentor middle schoolers on bullying

Published 2:33 pm Friday, January 15, 2016

The Camp Fire Alabama organization facilitated student-led anti-bullying seminars at Thompson High School on Jan. 14. (Contributed)

The Camp Fire Alabama organization facilitated student-led anti-bullying seminars at Thompson High School on Jan. 14. (Contributed)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Several groups of Thompson Middle School students quietly listened to their older peers as they completed activities in the Thompson High School auxiliary gym on the morning on Jan. 15.

The THS students leading each group had the full attention of their middle school counterparts, and effortlessly showcased the training they had received just one day earlier.

“We like to have high school students serve as mentors, because the middle schoolers can easily relate to their peers in high school,” Camp Fire Alabama Program Manager Kelly Seales said as the students worked in small groups. “I think they feel more secure talking to their peers who recently went through what they are facing now.”

Jan. 15 marked the second day Birmingham-based Camp Fire Alabama visited THS through the organization’s Outside-In anti-bullying program.

On Jan. 14, Camp Fire met with several THS students to train them as peer mentors for the TMS students’ visit the following day. On Jan. 15, the mentors led several activities for the TMS students aimed at combating bullying, intimidation and violence in their schools.

Seales said Camp Fire works closely with school counselors when selecting the middle school participants and the high school mentors for each Outside-In session.

“They handpick students who they think will be good peer mentors. And with the middle-schoolers, they try to select a diverse group of kids,” Seales said. “Some of them may already be part of a cliques, some may be leaders and some may have been the victim of bullying.”

All activities completed through the program are designed to build teamwork skills and foster anti-bullying atmospheres in the schools.

One of the group activities involved a paper cutout of “Blue man Bob.” Through the activity, each student in the group tore a piece off of Bob and said something hurtful about him.

After all students tore pieces from the cutout, they were required to put Bob back together piece-by-piece while saying something nice about him.

“Through that, they realize how quick it can be to insult someone. They see that their words can really hurt,” Seales said.