How to Make an Ordinary Moment Extra-ordinary

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The UAB Grant Program is open to all school districts and organizations working with students in Canada and the US until March 31st, 2017. With a United Against Bullying (UAB) grant you have the power to change students’ lives, moment by moment.

One school started an anti-bullying club but the students didn’t join. The teacher decided to change the focus of the club from anti-bullying to kindness, compassion, and what the students wanted to see in their school. Today there are 50-70 active club members participating regularly in random acts of kindness, making welcome bags for new students, decorating lockers of students who look like they could use a friend, and being an active ‘upstander – reporting any bullying they see and offering support. A school bus program with the same incentives and recognition for students who demonstrate respect and compassion was made possible with the UAB grant money.

“If you talk bout change but don’t change the reward and recognition system, nothing changes.”
– Paul Allaire

A common theme we are seeing in previous grant winners’ stories is the power of reward and recognition, of encouraging and focusing on the wanted behaviors – kindness, compassion, and empathy – which in turn empowers youth and makes them feel good about themselves. The kind actions cause positive ripple effects for everyone in the school community.

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Sign language for “I love you.”

Simple but Life-Changing Strategies

To inspire your anti-bullying or kindness program development, here are some strategies from previous grant winners:

  • Add anti-bullying reading resources to the existing WITS program library (Walk away, Ignore, Talk it out, Seek help – or simply, “using your WITS”); tape readings at monthly assemblies and post on school websites for community members to view; hold monthly celebration events for students to recognize one another for being a good citizen.
  • Bring in a speaker for school bus drivers from the Top 20 Training to empower youth and adults to make a positive difference in the quality of their lives.
  • Implement the Olweus Peaceful School Bus anti-bullying educational program to decrease inappropriate behavior on school buses while creating a climate of respect and cooperation.
  • Practice being kind. Elementary program, Caught being Kind allows the students to help each other and earn age-appropriate rewards for positive behavior. Junior High program, Be A Super Star recognizes middle school students for positive behavior on the bus.
  • Use the PBIS program for elementary and middle schools with weekly “lessons.” Bus drivers receive a short script for each “lesson” and the tools needed to reinforce throughout a week.
  • Provide incentives to encourage a positive school culture. Reward school bus drivers and students who model kindness, empathy, and compassion with a certificate and a trophy.
  • Offer training for bus drivers to promote a positive climate on the school buses and recognition and reporting of bullying.
  • Implement a system-wide anti-bullying pledge. Ask schools to complete a commitment form agreeing to start a campaign at their school and get students and staff to sign a pledge card. Encourage schools to develop ways to sustain their campaign with anti-bullying assemblies and lesson plans.
  • Introduce a program called Be Respectful! Be Safe! Be Responsible for bus drivers, students, and parents. Develop "script" videos to illustrate the behavior that reflects the theme of the program and post to your websites. Have a poster contest for elementary students and a video/social media contest for the JR and SR high students to promote student ownership of the program.
  • Professional development for bus drivers, student assembly, and bus kits from Project TEAM and Second Step training anti-bullying program. Create and print anti-bullying magnetic signs for school buses to extend the messages being taught in the classroom. The consistent message will help create a safe bus environment.

Resource Tuesdays

United Against Bullying is running a Resource Tuesday campaign on Facebook and Twitter every Tuesday from January until March 31st, showcasing organizations offering resources, training, and inspiration to spark ideas for your proposal. All of the programs highlighted have free resources. Many have videos and guides for teachers and parents.

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A small grant can purchase a lot of small prizes to encourage and recognize positive, kind behaviors. Younger students are happy with erasers, pencils, or bracelets. One high school asked their students what rewards would motivate them and the entire school administration honored their choices of one night off from doing homework or one extended break period.

Enrolling students in the process of designing your anti-bullying or kindness program will bring more willingness and participation of the students. Our youth are the ones who can end bullying – if they are encouraged, recognized, and empowered. Kind actions will cause positive ripple effects for everyone in the school community.

May you be inspired to make a difference for the students in your care. Fill out the grant application online today. It is a simple process with unlimited possibilities.

Read other inspiring stories of previous grant winners on this blog.

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