Friday, September 20, 2013

Texans Mascot Takes the BULL out of Bullying

Several hundred Pine Shadows Elementary School students cheered on the official mascot of the Houston Texans, Toro, as the uniformed bull-headed character introduced an interactive program on Sept. 17 that teaches children how to prevent and stop bullying behavior. The anti-bullying initiative is titled “TORO Takes the BULL Out of Bullying.”

The educational program is supported by the Houston Texans and by National Oilwell Varco, which has Spring Branch-area offices.

The age-appropriate content was developed with the Southwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), based in Houston. Several SBISD elementary counselors were also involved in program development.
The anti-bullying program ranks as the first interactive education and outreach program of its kind sponsored by a professional sports team in Houston.

“What I do out on the football field requires me to be tough, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t know what bullying means. None of you deserves to ever be bullied,” said Texans starting safety Danieal Manning, who spoke in person at the school and also as part of an interactive video.

“Bullying is a serious issue,” Superintendent of Schools Duncan Klussmann said. “We want to make sure there is no bullying in our schools so you will be happy about coming here, and you will be ready to learn.”

During the Pine Shadows special gathering, Toro the mascot silently rolled into the new school building’s cafeteria on a two-wheeled, self-balancing Segway personal transport. The lovable, bull-headed mascot does not speak publicly, so Toro “teaches’ anti-bullying lessons through a pre-recorded video narrated by Marc Vandermeer, the team’s broadcasting director. Texans tight end Owen Daniels, safety Manning, and a team cheerleader introduced as Kim also speak and instruct during separate video segments with Toro.

Toro mimed his way into Pine Shadows children’s hearts. Toro warmed up third-, fourth-, and fifth-grade students and teachers with dance steps, pulling children and adults up front to mimic the wild and zany mascot. Later in the program, Toro awarded special T-shirts to students after they answered anti-bullying questions correctly.

Toro and the Texans led students in proactive ways to recognize different types of bullying – Big Mouth Bullying, such as name calling; Hands On Bullying like punching, hitting and kicking; Stay Out Bullying, or non-inclusion; and the Cyber Bully, who hurts others online.

Students were taught about the different roles that people play with bullies and bully behaviors. Later, students practiced taking the “BULLY” out of bullying through personal action.

The five letters in “Bully” had five companion calls to action:

B = Be Confident
U = Use Your Voice
L = Leave
L = Look Out For Others
Y = “Y” Would You Bully?

Despite their professional football size, speed and strength, several of the Houston Texans said that they were no strangers to childhood bullying, or its result in the lives of family and friends. “I know what it is like to be bullied, and it doesn’t feel very good,” said tight end Daniels.

“If you are bullying someone else, you can get in some serious trouble, including with police. All types of bullying are wrong, and all types of people should feel safe at school.” “I have three kids and I tell them that it is important not to bully.

I saw bullying when I was younger. I did not like it,” Manning told students. By show of student hands, Superintendent Klussmann noted that several dozen new students at Pine Shadows Elementary might be easily excluded – often a pre-condition for bullying – if students and teachers did not work to be sure those students were included in campus life.

Personal confidence is another important measure of student wellness. “We want you guys to be really strong and confident when you leave here and go to middle school,” he told students.

National Oilwell Varco’s CEO and Chairman Pete Miller watched the company-supported anti-bullying campaign for the first time ever at Pine Shadows Elementary. “I was very impressed with all of the Texans and with Toro,” he said. “I was really impressed with the reaction of the students.

In Spring Branch, NOV is a Good Neighbor program partner and has several dozen employees active as volunteers. Good Neighbors support SBISD schools through volunteering, mentoring and related activities.

Kids make something like this so important. We all want to make sure that students are learning. Students can’t learn if they are being bullied.” National Oilwell Varco has 14,000 employees in Houston and more than 65,000 worldwide. The Houston-based corporation is a worldwide leader in providing major mechanical components to land and offshore drilling rigs, as well as many other energy-related services.

Also attending the Pine Shadows event were Houston Texans President Jamey Rootes and local sports media. Texans TV Host Drew Dougherty interviewed event speakers and leaders. He is a proud Pine Shadows Elementary graduate himself.

A Southern Methodist University graduate, Dougherty, now a Spring Branch resident, said that he loved sports and the Oilers back when he attended the elementary school more than 20 years ago. His Pine Shadows memories are warm ones of special teachers and seasonal events. “The women who taught me here at Pine Shadows were phenomenal. They were loving, perfect teachers,” Dougherty said.


Visit these sites to hear and see what local Houston media had to say about the Pine Shadows event:


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