Rebecca Laders '12 and student

Hartwick Challenge Education Targets Bullying in Local Schools

May 17, 2012

By Ryan Townsend '13

Recently, Challenge Education at Hartwick College has expanded programming significantly and added new outreach programs, serving as landmarks in the history of the organization during this 2011-2012 academic year. The organization has been an integral part of the Hartwick community for the past three decades and continues to show that it is dedicated to bettering the college as well as its Oneonta partners.

Challenge Education's Riverside Bullying Mitigation Program is just one of the successful programs underway this spring. Designed specifically for at risk youth and in an attempt to target the increasing bullying problem in our nation, the program works with children at the Riverside Elementary School in Oneonta.  Anne Louise Wagner '13 initiated the program after attending a workshop with Rebecca Laders '12 for Youth at Risk last fall. The workshop was hosted by Project Adventure, and after two program sessions, Wagner and Laders were yearning to apply their fresh knowledge to active practice. They decided to collaborate in order to build the Bullying Mitigation Program.

Wagner noted that "Not only are we expanding our client base, but we are also working directly with children who can benefit from these styles. By helping children who are dealing with a lot, and in an effort to break the stereotypes of Oneonta and look at the realities of life, we are providing invaluable opportunities."

Anne Louise Wagner '13 and studentDesigned to engage, inform, and reinforce what the students are learning, the Bullying Mitigation Program is split into five sequenced day programs (four half-day programs and one final full day program). In this way, the facilitators have been able to establish a foundation for the entire sequence, and are then able to continue to apply the taught materials in various ways, encouraging exponential growth and awareness.

Working together, Wagner and Laders established an embedded theme, "Small Pieces Being Part of a Bigger Whole", in order to create a cohesive thread through the sequenced days. Smaller topics such as "Respect," "Walking in Other People's Shoes," and "Voicing Needs" are also incorporated and applied. Laders highlighted that "We are trying to get the students to all work together, to be on the same page about these topics, and they're doing a great job."

Brad Zeh, a 5th grade teacher at Riverside working with the Bullying Mitigation Program, pointed out that "Becca and Anne Louise are excellent with the students. They both take time after each activity to elicit what the kids observed during the activities and how they relate to real-life bullying situations. The time we are scheduled each week works great because the kids go to lunch and recess after and can put some of their new skills to work immediately."

"Sometimes they don't always get the activities," Laders expressed, "but then when we debrief, they explain what they thought we were doing and why. This confirms that they're getting it, and we're doing what we've set out to do."

With effort from all those involved, the program is being funded by an Arts in Education Grant through the Catskill Regional Teachers Center. Its success will maintain a legacy for not only Challenge Education, but Hartwick College as well.

 "Adventure education has many applications," noted Seth Lucas '10, coordinator of Challenge Education, "and I'm very excited to see college students engaging with members of the community to do good work."

View a slideshow of photos from the Riverside Bullying Mitigation Program.

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes a uniquely experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a unique January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable

Contact: Christopher Lott
Phone: 607-431-4030