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Staff members at Park Public School in Georgetown are giving students full marks for a bullying prevention program designed to ensure no one is left alone on the playground during nutrition breaks.
Bullying prevention is a focus for all Halton District School Board schools and each school is required to have a Safe School Action Team. Park’s team met in the fall to examine data from the 2010 School Effectiveness Survey. The results showed 94 per cent of students feel safe at school, but Park wanted to get that number to 100 per cent, so they targeted preventative actions on the playground as a focus. The goal was to implement a program that would promote social inclusion as well as provide leadership opportunities for junior
students at the Kindergarten to Grade 5 school.
With training help from a public health nurse, the Halton Region-based Peers Running Organized Play Stations (PROPS) started this late winter at Park. It involves 20 Grades 4 and 5
students being trained as PROPS squad members. Wearing bright orange-coloured vests to identify their role, they ensure students on the playground are free from being bullied and are included in games. They talk to the students and encourage them to have fun. On a recent Tuesday morning, laughter filled the playground as PROP squad members played different games with a large group. PROPS runs at Park Monday to Thursday during the first nutrition break.
“We are very proud of our student leaders and their efforts to ensure everyone is included and feels safe at school,” says Principal Toni Marlow. “Day-to-day preventative work at Park includes a number of things. Early in the new year, students heard messages about what bullying is and how to stop it. In classrooms, teachers discuss bullying and help students deal with individual situations on a regular basis. All staff members take bullying seriously and are aware of the need to deal with it immediately. Often, clarifying expectations for student behaviour and support from home is successful in deterring bullying.”
According to the Halton Region’s website, PROPS is a program that encourages children to use their time productively in the schoolyard by helping them learn games. In playing these games, students are more likely to be active and less likely to engage in bullying behaviour on the playground. It is meant to encourage children to participate in activities regardless of their ability, size or gender, creating a fun and active place where kids can feel safe and included. PROPS also increases physical activity, which has been shown to improve academic performance and decrease unacceptable behavior, according to the region’s website.
The student PROPS leaders say the program is really valuable. “PROPS helps people have fun on the playground,” says Grade 5 student Brett. “Bullying hurts people and I think it needs to end.”