ELKHART — Sometimes it takes someone other than a teacher or a principal to help get an important message across to students.
Lili “Champ” Thompson, a basketball player for the Harlem Globetrotters, entered the gymnasium at Hawthorne Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon and quickly grabbed the students’ attention with a message and a few basketball tricks.
Thompson gave the K-6 students a few anti-bullying tips and ways to prevent bullying from happening at their school.
Her visit was part of the Globetrotters TEAM Up at school program. The program is designed in collaboration with the National Campaign to Stop Violence, and the Globetrotters present it to more than 300 schools each year, according to the team.
Thompson provided students with solutions through the acronym TEAM – which stands for Talk, Empathize, Ask and Mobilize – and explained what each word meant.
“My goal was to help teach students about not just bullying but the importance of being a unit, a team, and approaching bullying in that way it’s not just one person, it’s the entire school’s responsibility,” she said.
Her message seemed to resonate with the students. Many said Thompson’s message helped them learn more about taking action, bravery and having compassion.
“I learned about the importance of working as a team and to never bully anyone because of their color or gender,” said Keiondre Gates, a sixth-grader.
Jaqueline Loza, another sixth-grader, said she learned the importance of empathizing with people.
“If someone trips and falls, you should help them up and make sure they’re OK first and laugh later,” she said.
Sixth-grader Eduardo Alvarez said he learned to have respect for people, regardless of their differences.
“It doesn’t matter what type of person they are, the bottom line is they are people, too, and you should treat them the way you would like to be treated,” he said.
For being good listeners, Thompson ended her presentation by showing students and staff some basketball tricks.
“I just hope they had some fun and they understand that talking about things like not bullying or supporting each other isn’t just a lecture, it can be fun and a group activity,” she said.