Bama Against Bullying teaches weekly classes in Pelham
Published 1:56 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2022
By LIZZIE BOWEN | Staff Writer
PELHAM – Bama Against Bullying aims to bring kindness and smiles to local children who may need the extra confidence boost.
Bama Against Bullying holds weekly classes at 24e gym in Pelham on Thursdays at 3:30 p.m., and teaches children the art of confidence through dance.
Barbie Perry, founder of Bama Against Bullying, seeks to show kids how to find their voice.
“Our mission is to develop strong and confident children using innovative methods to empower them,” Perry said. “We believe if you can empower a child, and give them the confidence they need, build their self-esteem they will be able to stand up against bullying.”
Perry said the first Bama Against Bullying event was held in 2015, and then she decided to make Bama Against Bullying a nonprofit. Perry said the weekly classes held in 24e gym in Pelham are to utilize dancing to make kids feel better about themselves.
“Our mission with this class is to use innovative ways to build their confidence (and) self-esteem, but also to have circle conversations about important topics including: bullying, self-respect and self-love,” Perry said. “We are using dance as a tool to prevent bullying, and it is more like a one-on-one class with the kids.”
Perry said that anyone should be encouraged to attend the classes whether they are experienced in dance or not.
“Our goal is not for them to come and be professional dancers,” she said. “It is for the kids to leave the class feeling more empowered than when they came in.”
Perry said 24e fully supports the mission of Bama Against Bullying.
“They are very excited to have us there,” she said. “They really believe in our mission. That is the beauty of this program, you see kids come in super shy with very little confidence, and then within a few weeks I see their transformation, and it is just a beautiful thing to watch.”
Perry said that she brings a different topic to discuss with the children every week, and that the kids upload these topics to social media.
“With each video, I put it into our Tik Tok or Reel that we upload onto social media, so they know they are influencing and they are becoming positive influencers for the world,” she said. “They are giving other kids advice. I really love that part. I feel like it is really giving them a voice.”
The Tik Tok page is called @TheDanceAffect and the Instagram is @BamaAgainstBullying.
“This is a way that you can leave a positive footprint with things that you are doing on social media,” she said. “There is a lot of good that can happen with social media, and (I want) to turn the narrative into positive attention.”
Perry said one of their videos was shared by singer-songwriter Walker Hayes, and that it was a good example of how much influence the children can have on others.
“That was a perfect example,” Perry said. “I tried to tell them, ‘One kid can see your video, you don’t know who you can touch or who you can reach.’ So, it was really awesome that he did that and you never know how many people you can reach through the internet, so you might as well be doing something good if we really wanted to change the world, and change the way kids use social media.”
Perry said her experience working as a teacher made her passionate about instilling confidence in children.
“I am super passionate about it,” she said. “When bullying started being a really bad issue, and I started really hearing from a lot of different people, and this has really been a community support that they have now, and they know they can reach out to me. It’s an open conversation.”
Perry talked about the importance of being interactive and giving children affirmations to say tp boost their confidence.
“I work with the “Make a Positive” impact campaign,” she said. “It is showing them the importance of affirmations, the importance of standing up for others and having somebody’s back.”
Perry said that if change is going to occur, consistency is important.
“If I really want to change kids, I need to be able to work with them,” she said. “A one-time thing is great, they will listen to it, but this one-on-one has been the biggest thing for me. That is why I created this class.”
One of the affirmations Perry has the children say is, “there is only one of me,” to remind them of their importance.
“We do our affirmations at the beginning of class, that’s how I started them off,” she said. “I want to create a safe space for them. I am talking about it, but not in a way where it is just like I am throwing them a speech. I am actually having a conversation and trying to fix the situation and telling them, ‘You’re not alone,’ and my goal is to get to the point where bullying is not cool anymore. I tell the parents we have to stay strong with the kids.”
More information about Bama Against Bullying can be found at BamaAgainstBullying.org as well as on the Bama Against Bullying Facebook at Facebook.com/BamaAgainstBullying.