New Castle News

September 4, 2012

Magician with anti-bullying message at center of upcoming George Washington carnival

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The start of school means new classes and teachers, extra-curricular activities and an opportunity to make new friends.

But there’s an underlying issue that’s existed as long as there have been students — bullying.

To address that subject, George Washington Intermediate Elementary School in conjunction with the New Castle Police Department, is holding an anti-bullying carnival on the school grounds from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Games, relay events, long distance football toss competition, an obstacle course, bounce- arounds, dunking booths, a popcorn machine and other attractions provides a carnival mood, said Joe Anderson, principal, who helped coordinate the event with Officer John George.

Vendors will provide refreshments.

To pump up the atmosphere, there will be music by deejay Ray Kohnen.

Another part of the carnival will be Chris “Doc” Dixon, a specialist on bullying who incorporates magic into his presentation to spread the message.

There’s both a fun element and educational aspect to the carnival, George explained.

“It’s a chance for kids to be interactive, be healthy and get exercise,” he pointed out.

George said the carnival is an offshoot of the department’s project called PLAY, or Police Leading Active Youth, which was implemented this year by Chief Bobby Salem.

“Officer George spearheaded this carnival under the advisement of the chief in an effort to reach out to the younger members of the community,” Anderson said. “We want to educate the youth and make them aware of all aspects of bullying and how widespread it is.”

Officers Terry Dolquist and Justin Crum are also involved in PLAY.

The principal noted that bullying occurs in every school across America, including George Washington, and takes many forms.

“We have a saying here — ‘It’s not OK to use your words to hurt people.’”

By hosting such programs, Anderson hopes to convey that, “We don’t want the walls of the school to be boundaries for educating students in our community.”

Besides the New Castle Area School District, PLAY also works in conjunction with Lawrence County Juvenile Probation, the YMCA, the district attorney’s office, and Cray Youth and Family Services.

“We want to create a better view of police with children and improve their perception of us,” George noted. “We really want to get more involved especially in school districts with issues such as bullying. We’ll keep advancing in this program, which operates on donations.”

He hopes the carnival will become an annual event.

“Every generation has bullies,” George said. “We want it to be known that bullying won’t be tolerated. Words are just as damaging as physical action and can lead to more extreme situations.”

Meanwhile, Anderson conveys a message he hopes will last throughout the school year — “practice kindness.”