In the span of just one year, Riley Yorker went from being bullied to being a Bully Buster! Riley is a fourth grader at Lewis Elementary School. Last year, she felt she was being bullied and teased by someone she considered a friend. She wanted the friendship mended more than anything, so she and the other student went to School Counselor Amanda Leonard to work out their issues.
After the meeting with Mrs. Leonard, Riley thought talking through their issues and feelings was a great experience and she wanted her peers to know the right way to put a stop to bullying. That is how the idea of forming an anti-bullying club came to fruition.
Riley took initiative and sought her Principal’s approval to start the club. She even submitted a plan of action clearly outlining its purpose. Riley wanted a cool name for the club, like Ghostbusters, so that's how they came up with Bully Busters.
Bully Busters is a club for kindergarten through fifth grade and they meet before school during breakfast. Club members create activities such as acting out scenarios to learn how to stand up to bullies. They learn how to be an “upstander”— a person who speaks-up and stands-up to bullies instead of standing by and watching it happen. They act out skits and tell stories and the students give real life solutions that are practical for them.
“Whether it’s something going on in the cafeteria, the playground, or maybe at the bus stop where there are not a lot of adults around, the kids practice being assertive and doing the right thing in Bully Busters,” said Leonard.
Riley and the Bully Busters wanted to do something special since October is Bully Prevention Month. So they used brightly colored poster boards and created positive and inspirational messages. These electrifying, neon signs are placed all over Lewis Elementary, where students can see them every day.
In the cafeteria, the Bully Busters placed a poster on the wall that reads, “Taste Your Words Before You Spit Them Out”. The Bully Busters hope to generate conversation with the signs and remind their peers to be kind and considerate.
The Bully Busters also created postcards and wrote messaging on each one that discussed bullying and how to prevent it. Teachers were given the postcards to read aloud to their class and then the class would discuss the message.
“It makes me feel really happy, excited to help other people in the school and support each other,” said Riley.
As a result of creating the Bully Busters and all the good the group has done, the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners honored Riley with a plaque and a beautiful crystal trophy. Then just a few days later, The Hillsborough County School Board also recognized her achievements.
Congratulations Riley! Starting Bully Busters at just nine years old is quite the accomplishment, and thank you Bully Busters for being “upstanders” in your community and school!View Full Album