Soul Shoppe on mission to stop Cyber-Bullies

AscentiveInternet safety tips from the Ascentive team

In response to the deaths of young people who have died as a results of persistent cyber-bullying, Vicki Abadesco and her team at Soul Shoppe are on a mission to create a bully-free world and that means standing for safe, happy and loving elementary schools for all students.

“Young people are literally dying to feel seen and respected for who they are. What’s it going to take for us to create a world where people can just be free to be themselves? For schools, the answer is a long-term commitment and plan by the entire school community for safety and inclusion,” says Soul Shoppe Director Vicki Abadesco.

To start schools off in that direction, here are three hot tips for all administrators, teachers and parents to make your school and the world a safer, happier and loving place:

•   Connect: “Put away the gadgets and find activities that build face-to-face social connection,” says Abadesco.  Whether at school, at home or somewhere else, students are always looking for real authentic connection and a place they can feel safe. How does your home or school rate? Make your home or school that safe place by providing activities that build “togetherness.” At school this might be participating in community service projects or daily “check-ins.” At home this could be volunteering for a cause you all believe in or spending the evening sharing a meal and sharing what you appreciate about one another. “It may sound corny or too touchy feely and we encourage you to give it a try. It could save a life,” she says.

•   Share Feelings: Young people are constantly confronted with situations that can cause them fear, worry, shame, sadness, anger and confusion. “Most young people don’t know how to talk about these experiences and to be honest, most adults don’t either,” she says. “If you want to help your student, then talk about feelings.” Share experiences you’ve had when you were feeling afraid, angry or confused. If a young person hears a personal challenge you experienced and how you got through it, they will be more likely to come to you when they are faced with a challenge.

•   Teamwork: Abadesco believes this is the key in creating safety. “As adults it is our job to create safe and nurturing environments for our youth,” she says. One of the ways to do that is by teachers and parents working together to support student needs. Make sure you have appropriate contact information and communicate the best ways to stay connected. Teachers, consider sending a weekly email with updates on how your classes are doing. Parents, find time to have regular check-ins with your teacher. This is an important relationship, so honor the relationship and take the time to get to know one another.

The key to creating a bully-free school is getting everyone on the same page about how to care for students and that begins with a strong caring community.

Soul Shoppe presents programs for elementary schools for all students, staff training or parent program to give your entire school community the essential skills needed to create a safe, loving and happy environment for all.

“The heart of our work is creating engaging experiences for all participants that change mindsets and impact lives,” says Abadesco.

Heidi Harding, a teacher at Stevens Elementary in Spokane, Washington, had this to say about bringing Soul Shoppe in to work with staff and students: “I would say that the time our school spent with Soul Shoppe was life changing. I could see a light go on in the faces of students and teachers. Wow!”

Flushing, Michigan Principal Joe Reinfelder says this about the recent program: “Great! Best bullying assembly we have seen. We look forward to the follow up.”


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