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The world would be a boring place if everyone looked the same.
Kevin Daley, aka Special K, the former captain of the world renowned Harlem Globetrotters, encouraged children to be proud of their differences and to respect others, regardless of appearances.
Mr. Daley has some experience with being different. At 6 feet 5 inches tall, the basketball player towers over others, and he is not a natural born citizen of the United States.
“When I was 12, I moved from Central America to the U.S. I speak Spanish fluently. So I had a thick accent and dressed differently," he told the sixth grade class of McCord Junior High School on Friday. "But it was hard for me to be bullied because I was proud of who I am.”
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Mr. Daley, who retired his 10-year career with the Harlem Globetrotters in February, spread his anti-bullying message to the youngsters in a high-energy, interactive program that at times mimicked the Price Is Right game show.
Before talking to children about the serious subject, he raised the roof, encouraging the students to “Make some noise!” The children happily screamed and cheered in return.
He told them, about 250 in total, that although he looked happy, he was “upset and angry” on the inside because of something going on all over the United States: Bullying.
He encouraged the students to take a stand against it.
“Enough is enough. Everyone here has seen it or is being bullied,” he said.
He called students to be on stage to answer questions about the four-lettered acronym S.T.O.P.: Stand Together Open-Minded and Proud.
Sophia Rees was the first to have her memory tested about what the S stood for -- Stand up to bullying. For her correct answe,r she and others were invited to perform some “simple” basketball tricks with Mr. Daley.
The basketball star’s message came at the kick-off of McCord’s Positive Behavior Intervention System.
“We just started this new program with the sixth grade and by chance it lined up with his schedule,” Principal Keith Limes said. “The program focuses on the school’s cornerstones: Respect, integrity, discovery, and knowledge.”
Part of the program is issuing McCord Cornerstone Coupons to students for doing good deeds or helping one another. The coupons will earn students entry to fun activities, such as an ice cream social, he said.
Mr. Daley said that nearly all parents do not know their child is being bullied or is a bully.
“They need to know what’s going on, because kids are hurting. Don’t wait until it’s too late,” he said. Parents, he said, should inquire about their child’s life, asking questions and getting details. He said parents and children should visit www.stopthebullying911.com Web site for information about it.
After teaching the children about the negatives of bullying, Mr. Daley showed off his ball-balancing moves.
During the presentation, he was joined by Steve “QTMC” Coleman, a Detroit rapper that sang to the children about the bullying and skipping school -- "That ain't cool."
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.