Do I Make a Difference?

Do I make a difference? Has my work changed anything? These are the questions I recently asked myself before going on the Dave Congalton Radio program. For several years now, I have taught groups of fifth and sixth graders assertiveness, peer mediation, and communication skills but didn’t know if there’d been any lasting effects. So recently when Dave asked me for interview ideas I  asked him if he’d like to talk to one of my former student volunteers.

Dave agreed so I contacted sixteen-year-old Mikayla Thompson, a former friend mediator, about doing the show. She said she’d love to appear on Dave Congalton Hometown Radio to look at the long-term effects of early intervention. Mikayla Thompson was just ten when she volunteered her recesses to stop bullying on our campus. For two years of elementary school, she worked with a core group of students to promote peace on campus. Using scripts I wrote, non-violence techniques, and assertiveness training these kids helped to make our school a better place.

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I knew those kids helped our school while they were there but I had no idea if the prevention and intervention tools we taught had any long term-term effects.

But I hoped.

On Monday, November 19th I picked Mikayla up for the ride to the KVEC Studio. What she shared then and during the next two hours blew me away. Not only has she stood up to bullies for these past six years but she also has comforted victims, helped her siblings work out conflicts, and gone on to volunteer for the Make a Wish foundation. She was a resilient child. I was so proud I couldn’t stop grinning.

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During the interview she was poised, thoughtful, and kind as she shared some of her stories. Not only had early intervention made a difference in her life, but Mikayla was paying it forward and helping other teens to cope. For the entire interview, click on the following link:

Interview with Mikayla and Laurie

Tips for parents and educators:

  1. Be on the lookout for changes in behavior. If a child suddenly becomes withdrawn or reluctant to attend school, they might be experiencing bullying.
  2. Ask specific questions about how he/she is interacting with others.
  3. Be vigilant with social media. Cyber-bullying is on the rise.
  4. Role-play ways to deal with bullying as in the Peace Card.
  5. Seek help. My website, Artania.net has scores of free lessons and ideas.Copy of card back 

    A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

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