A gymnasium filled with students in Grades 4 to 6 had the chance to pick the four Raiders players’ brains following the talks and PowerPoint presentation. Most of their questions surrounded autograph opportunities and the players’ daily lives, but one student asked whether any of the Raiders themselves had ever been bullied.
Most said they hadn’t, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an important issue to them.
“It’s something that a lot of young kids want to know, because they see us as role models and successful people,” Raiders centreman Anthony Bardaro said. “I was never really bullied, but I was raised in a way to know that I have to be confident with the person that I am.
“The things that I like are the things that I like, and nobody can tell me that that’s wrong,” Bardaro continued. “I think if these kids know that it’s OK to be however they are, whatever that may be, then they’re going to be fine.”
While the Raiders have held sessions that dealt with alcohol and substance abuse in the past, it was the organization’s intent to organize a presentation that placed emphasis on bullying this year.
“Bullying has become really serious with all of the Facebook, Twitter, texting and all of that,” Bardaro, 20, said. “It’s stuff that even when I was in school, we didn’t have. I think that the team and the staff really wanted to focus on changing and helping fix that.”
Sgt. Rhonda Meakin, of the Prince Albert Police Service, attended an anti-bullying presentation at W.F.A. Turgeon prior to the Christmas break. She was also present at Tuesday’s session and noted the topic’s significance.
“We’ve been involved for years with the Raiders for this program in many ways,” she said. “This year, we thought it was very important to kind of change the role a bit … What happens in the schools, the playgrounds, everywhere -- there seems to be bullying all over, which is unfortunate but true.”
While the crux of the presentation is set, Meakin said the conversation is different with every session.
“We’ll talk about different things, like the bully and the bystander,” she said. “Sometimes we’ll touch on cyber-bullying and how that’s equally as important and just as prevalent among kids today … We touch a little bit on everything, and sometimes it depends on the questions asked.”
Lyle Karasiuk, director of public affairs for Parkland Ambulance, spoke after the PowerPoint presentation. He said the sessions are meant to shed light on potential strategies that can help children deal with bullying.
“Bullying is not acceptable in today’s society,” he said. “We’re giving (children) the message and the tools to say, ‘I can do something about it. I can tell my mom. I can tell a teacher. I can tell someone in the community.’”
For W.F.A. Turgeon Community School co-ordinator Jayne Boulet, the hope is that the Prince Albert Catholic School Division will continue to focus on the issue of bullying.
“We want to be holding more workshops. We feel that it’s something that you just can’t do twice and then forget about,” she said. “We see little bits of it and there was never, I guess, a program that was implemented into the curriculum on it. This is something extra that we decided was needed to be done before it got out of hand.”