Magician wants to make bullying vanish

By Sonya Bateson


Gate Pa School students were treated to a magic show in a bid to stomp out bullying.

Pupils from the school gathered in the hall yesterday afternoon to learn the anti-bullying message through magician Elgregoe's tricks, puppetry, ventriloquism, music, songs and props - including live birds.

Elgregoe, otherwise known as Greg Britt, said he started doing anti-bullying programmes in schools 16 years ago in Canterbury after a principal friend challenged him to use his "magic" to get rid of bullying.

The programme expanded throughout the country and Mr Britt now comes to Tauranga about three times a year to speak to a range of different schools throughout the area. After he had visited a school, Mr Britt said he often got told of cases where parents would contact the school, talking about their child who had just opened up about their bullying incidents.

"Generally schools say they already have an anti-bullying programme, but it's good to get someone in who's not a teacher.

Kids remember a lot more of what they see than what they hear, sometimes I come back in a few years and they can remember the last time I was there and they often remember a lot of it."

Over the many years he had been involved in the programme, Mr Britt said he had noticed a change in the way schools dealt with bullying as it was more out in the open.

Pupil Solomon Nimo, 9, was at the show and said he had really enjoyed it. "My favourite part was when he changed all the birds into rabbits. It was good, I learned about WITS which means Walk away, Ignore, Talk to the teacher and tell them to Stop."

Assistant principal Terry Furmage said Gate Pa got Elgregoe to visit the school every few years to help reinforce the anti-bullying message, rather than having the same teachers repeating the same messages.

Mr Furmage said there was the occasional bully at the school and many of the students didn't have the skills to deal with it.

"Some might see it at home and how they deal with it at home is how they deal with it here. Some are students for whom English is a second language, they don't know what's going on or don't understand what is being said, these programmes are a way to give them a strategy."

The anti-bullying programme is supported by TrustPower.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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