Sudbury

Anti-bullying program teaches Sudbury students how to lead through physical activity

A group of students at Laurentian University is hoping for some financial support for its anti-bullying program. Cool Kids Lead is a month-long program run by physical education students at the university in Sudbury, that teaches students leadership skills through games and physical activity.
Laurentian University physical education students Brittany Reinhardt and Brandon Schroeder coordinate the Cool Kids Lead anti-bullying program. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

A group of students at Laurentian University is hoping for some financial support for its anti-bullying program.

Cool Kids Lead is a month-long program run by physical education students at the Sudbury university, that teaches students leadership skills through games and physical activity.

Over the past two years they've visited 20 schools and reached 8,000 children.

"It's a different approach," Brandon Schroeder, one of the coordinators of the program, said.

"It's a comfortable space. Kids love going to the gym, during class time and school, that's the favourite part of the day for most of them."

Schroeder said the program focuses on building leadership behaviours, instead of bullying behaviours.

Each day the students explore different topics like getting to know each other, trust and teamwork. They also talk about wellness and mental health.

'They really do inspire us'

Brittany Reinhardt, another coordinator with the program, said they can see the changes in the students from the first week to the fourth week.

"You see the kids that would never talk to each other from the first week, partnering up for games, and you know, being a little bit more comfortable around each other," she said.

Reinhardt added that the program tries to give students the tools to come forward, whether they're being bullied or are bullying someone.

Schroeder said the program has received a lot of positive feedback from teachers and parents.

"The week after actually, a mother called me and said, 'I just wanted to call you to let you know the student who bullied my son came over for dinner last night, they played video games and got to know each other a bit more.' So things like that to us hit home," he said.

Reinhardt said it has also had a big impact on the coordinators themselves.

"It's an hour out of our day to get to go and be a kid again, and get to connect with them," she said.

"They really do inspire us at the end of the day, and I think that's a huge reward that we get out of it."

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