February 6, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 71  

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Boydell's boys help bash bullying

By Aron Yeomanson

Gazette Staff

If Western’s student population seems abnormally short this coming Monday, don’t be alarmed.

Alumni Hall will be hosting 1,200 students from the Thames Valley District School Board. The Grade 6 to 8 students, who were selected on a first-come, first-serve basis, will be given a presentation on violence and bullying before being treated to an exhibition basketball game between the Mustangs’ men’s team and former Ontario University Athletics players.

“The past couple of years we’ve had a couple bus loads of kids come down to watch a game,” said captain Sagar Desai. “This year, we wanted to take it to the next level and add an educational purpose.”

Educating students in the Grade 6 to 8 range about violence and bullying has been a focus of the school board in the recent past, and for good reason.

“There are many advantages to educating people in this age group about violence,” said Western psychology professor Claire Crooks. “This is the age when there is a changing focus from family to peers in socialization. Bullying becomes more complex and often involves the starting of rumours or exclusion. Therefore, a more complex message is necessary at this time.”

This message will be presented in the form of a play written and performed by students from Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School in London.

“There ought to be more to athletics than just putting a team on the floor,” said head coach Craig Boydell. “This is a way that athletics can make [Western] more visible in the community.”

Don’t expect this event to be the last of its kind as Boydell views the increased involvement in organization as a learning experience for future endeavours.

“This event is kind of a prototype for us,” Boydell said. “Once we go through it, we’ll be able to develop a plan to do it again and make it easier to do next time. Maybe in the future we can run four or five events with different themes.”

Following the educational segment of the event, the kids should be in for some entertaining hoops as former OUA basketball stars have been recruited to play against the Mustangs.

“The theme we were after was to have as many former OUA players, who are now teachers, come out,” Boydell said. “Again, as our events get larger, it will be easier to recruit more players in the future.”

The idea for Monday’s presentation has been greeted with a lot of enthusiasm.

“From what I understand the gym could have been filled five times over,” Boydell said.

Combining basketball with an educational message is a good way to add credibility to thoughts on violence that are most likely already promoted by parents.

“This is a great opportunity to get the message across,” Crooks said. “Having the basketball team help promote these ideas gives the kind of star appeal that parents sometimes don’t have.”



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