Imagine It’s You: Gulfstream Academy Students Attend Anti Bullying Event

By Steve Cummings

December 1, 2021

Gulfstream Academy recently hosted a weeklong Anti-Bullying Event where students participated interactively through essays and drawings depicting this insidious epidemic that permeates in the schools and in the homes.

Ken Cohan created this magnificent program with assistance from his colleague Ty Coleman.

Ken is a board member with the Hallandale Beach Police Athletic and Activities League and is an active member with the Kiwanis Club of Hallandale Beach. Ty Coleman is a gifted graphic designer who also excels in making videos.

Cohan received funding from several sponsors so the participants could wear t-shirts bearing the event’s mantra, IMAGINE IT’S YOU.

These three powerful words were echoed throughout the sessions involving students grades K through eight and kudos to the school’s Principal, Tarshe Freeman who realized the benefits of sharing these ideas with her students.

I was fortunate to attend three of the sessions and reaped information about the subject matter from the adults and the students regarding the various forms of Bullying.

Firstly, it was addressed, why do people bully? The most salient point was that bullies were often bullied themselves and are insecure and this activity projects power when in reality, they are weak and timid.

Students pointed out that the stronger, more powerful prey on the weak because they offer little resistance physically intimidating them by stalking, threatening or even getting physical.

Mr. Cohan repeatedly challenged the students by saying “Imagine it’s you.” What actions should you take? Don’t stand idle. Tell your teacher, an adult, the principal, or a police officer working on the school grounds. Doing nothing by standing idle is fueling the dilemma.

Cyber bullying is another method utilized via social media. Unflattering photos can be posted through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and texting. Children are vulnerable and threats or intimidations should not be treated lightly. Parents must get involved and report these incidents to the authorities.

I was so impressed by the way that the middle school students expressed themselves through their essays. Many speak and write at levels far above their age. A modest accolade to their teachers who have endured increased stress and responsibilities during the pandemic.

Students can feel isolated if they are not able to afford the designer clothes that some wear and are belittled by the bullies or if they sit alone in the cafeteria and no one joins them at their table. These are all factors that the students must recognize and amend.

Bullying can extend within the household as well. Too often the parents or guardians are the culprits. Children should not be compared to other students who receive higher grades by making them feel inferior. Not everyone is an academic and many will become successful, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and entrepreneurs.

In closing, I echo the theme of Ken’s conference, Imagine it’s you. How would you feel if you were the victim? Students and adults must conquer this plague collectively and Mr. Cohan had all of the students pledge their loyalty to a bill of rights which he crafted that includes;

I will not be a bully
I will assist those who are being bullied
I will be kind to students who seem excluded.
I will not be a bystander
I will report incidents of bullying to authority figures.
I will confront bullies and ask them how they would feel if someone bullied them. IMAGINE IT’S YOU.

The weeklong festivities culminated with an award and recognition ceremony attended by our venerable City Of Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper as well as City Commissioners Sabrina Javellana and Michelle Lazarow who all shared inspiring words of wisdom.

If you are interested in learning more about this impressive presentation, contact Ken Cohan at: kennycohan@yahoo.com. Or Hallandale Beach Police and Activities Program Director, Jonathan Carrillo at: jcarrillo@hallandalebeachfl.gov.

Steve Cummings is a Past LT. Governor with Kiwanis International and can be reached at: (954) 907-2392.