Meet Me on the Playground –
Anti-bullying for Elementary School Age Children
Julie Murphy, who also wrote What If We All were Gray?, took notes from a training on sexual harassment and bullying in schools I presented to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 2011 and used her own experience to write scenarios of children’s bullying interaction. I took those scenarios to Stacey Smith at Gallery 27 in Lincolnton, NC. She had some great ideas using a gender/race/ethnicity non-specific character and mentioned using something about a playground. I mentioned the saying, “Meet me outside” as a challenge to a fight used by children and adults. Thus, the title, “Meet Me on the Playground” was born. We want children to take that to mean, “meet me on the playground to play, not to fight”. Stacey then took the scenarios and began to draw them using the characters she designed.
The booklet was developed first. I told them I wanted something easy to carry, readily accessible. Stacey and Cecil suggested putting it on heavy card stock with a ring in the corner so it will not get lost on a desk and it could be hung on a wall. Celeste Quinn, Jennifer McGinnis, Dwayne Burks and Seth Langson contributed ideas and at least one sentence in the copy. I wrote the rest of the copy. May Carter Barger and Celeste Quinn were our editors. The first prototype was finished in the late summer of 2014. The posters soon followed. Stacey and I suggested many formats but finally settled on a poster for children and a poster for adults/educators/parents.
Over the next year, we shared the initial prototype with several groups, including Dwayne Burks, Faith Network and YMCA, and Sherry Reinhardt, Lincoln County Coalition Against Child Abuse and the Lincoln County Children’s Advocacy Center. They and I used the booklet in summer programs with elementary school age children. The program was met with rave reviews, suggestions were made for some changes.
In the Spring of 2016, we asked Tiny Tots Pre-School in Stanley, Pre-School Connections, Inc. in Belmont, and Covenant Community Pre-School in Gastonia to review the program and give us feed-back. After reviewing the materials for a month and several meetings to discuss changes and additions, the final booklet and posters were developed. With the help of Dwayne Burks, three suggested lessons plans were added. Logan Cohen, Childrens Advocacy Network, assisted in editing the posters and helping to make the copy more child friendly. Our final program was finished in the fall of 2016. Since then, Headstart/Gaston Community Action and the City of Gastonia Parks and Recreation Department has adopted the program for their services.
This initial edition is available for purchase on our website and on our Facebook page. Our next blog will explain the program and why we chose the format we used. It also will cover our plans for the next edition, Meet Me on the Playground II – for children 0 to 5.
If you are interested in more information on Meet Me on the Playground or any of our Safe Seven, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.