Morris Bye students CLIMB to stop bullying

Determined to end bullying and to help students know how to respond when they see bullying, Anoka-Hennepin schools frequently invite CLIMB Theatre to perform its bullying prevention programs for students.

Ashton Carter, playing the part of Vandy in CLIMB Theatre’s performance of “The Bystander,” explains what happens when someone sees bullying but does nothing about it. Photo by Sue Austreng

Ashton Carter, playing the part of Vandy in CLIMB Theatre’s performance of “The Bystander,” explains what happens when someone sees bullying but does nothing about it. Photo by Sue Austreng

Jan. 28, a troupe of three CLIMB Theatre actors performed an original play, “The Bystander,” to an audience of Morris Bye Elementary School third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.

In the play, Wheels shoves, trips and teases Gusty. Vandy, the new kid in the neighborhood, sees it all, but doesn’t know if he should report the bullying and end up being a target himself or keep quiet and keep his friendship with Wheels.

In the end, Vandy helps Gusty learn how to stand up for himself and how to make the bullying stop.

The actors incorporated the CALM approach into the story: cool down, assert yourself, lift your chin and mean it.

“Just stay CALM and you’ll get through it,” Vandy said.

After the performance, CLIMB Theatre actor Patrick Webster (Gusty) talked about the intent of the play.

“It’s about empowering kids, empowering the bystander – the kid who sees it happen – and helping them know what to do. It’s letting them know there is something they can do to stop bullying,” Webster said.

CLIMB producer Buffy Sedlachek explained it this way.

“We want students to understand ways to not give their power over to kids who bully,” said Sedlachek. “Through theater, students learn how to effectively take a stand against bullying and they also learn that bystanders can have a big impact on creating bully-free schools.”

Following the performance, teachers were invited to talk with their students, further enforcing the idea that they can put an end to bullying inside the schools and outside, too.

“Tell the bully you don’t like what they’re doing, you want them to stop and then report the bullying. That’s something all of us can do,” said Webster.

About CLIMB Theatre

For more than 35 years, CLIMB (Creative Learning Ideas for Mind and Body) Theatre has brought character education programming into schools and other educational settings.

Its mission is to create and perform plays, classes and other works that inspire and propel young people toward actions that benefit themselves, each other and the community.

CLIMB is funded in part by a grant provided the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund, a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

To learn more about CLIMB Theatre, visit www.climb.org.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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