CHAMPION — Learning to deal with a bully or what to do when approached by a stranger have been part of a two-week program at Champion Central Elementary School as part of an anti-bullying and stranger danger program.
The program was presented by Warren Martial Arts both during physical education classes and after school for 45 minutes.
Damon Warren with Warren Martial Arts and program instructor, said the entire school took part in the program during the school day and more than 70 children were in the after-school program, which taught self-defense and Taekwondo.
The program also has been offered in the Joseph Badger and Bristol school districts.
Warren said the stanger awareness came at the right time as there have been recent reports in Champion of students being approached by individuals in vehicles.
”We want to help children in case they encounter someone they don’t know. We stress to the children who are good strangers. We tell them not to talk to strangers, which is important, but they may be in a situation where they need help. Police officers, firefighters and others are there to help them,” Warren said.
He said the children went through different scenarios such as if they were lost in a store they could go to a cashier to help them.
”We want children to be able to identify who is there to help them when they need help,” Warren said.
Warren said today there are different types of bullying, including physical, verbal and now cyber.
”Children learned how to avoid a bully. We talked about why people bully — oftentimes it’s because a bully has no friends to be with so they are sad,” Warren said.
Children went through scenarios of what they would do if approached by a bully and self defense they can use, such as kicking or punching.
”Even an 8-year-old can kick you in the shin and be able to run and get away,” Warren said.
Warren said each child paid $20 for the after-school program, which totaled $1,460, all of which was donated to the school to be used where needed.
Principal Alexandra Nannicola said when Warren is at the school during the day, he talks to the students about bullying prevention in grades three and four and about stranger awareness in kindergarten to second.
Jake Jordan, 10, a fourth-grader, said he learned that it is important to try and talk first to get the bully to stop.
”We are learning self-defense moves,” he said.
Kaitlyn Miller, 8, third grade, said she liked learning ways to kick and to get away from someone.
”They are learning something that is very important but also having fun,” said Allison Okonek, a program instructor.
”It’s amazing how quickly the children pick up on the moves,” said Jason Crites, an instructor.