Lehigh Valley

Life Lessons: Middle school and bullying

Life Lessons Middle school and bullying

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. - These days there is an ongoing discussion in schools about the topic of bullying.
And schools are always looking for unique ways to talk to kids about the subject.

One Emmaus High School graduate is hoping his message will make a difference.

Motivational speaker and author Mike Marsteller talks honestly about his own life experiences and counsels kids to find their true selves, make good choices and stand up to bullies.

"Bullying is not something that just happens in schools. Bullying happens everywhere no matter who you are what you do who you look like," Mike tells the kids in his presentations.

At a recent talk with a group of 8th grade students at Orefield Middle School in the Parkland School District, Mike says the kids can use bullying as
an opportunity.

He tells the kids not to let negative words change how they feel about themselves and to focus instead on their own lives and decisions.

"Don't be scared of making the wrong decisions, put your time and energy into making the right ones," Mike says to the kids.

At OMS, administrators are working on a more defined bullying program for next year.

Orefield Principal Todd Gombos explains how the district is working with both middle schools to keep bullying issues in the forefront for one reason.

"I think with all the social networking and the ways in which students bully each other, we want them to have a clear understanding of the implications, ramifications, how you make one feel."

Mike gives the kids some key ideas:
* For every negative thought, follow it up with three positive thoughts about yourself.
* Surround yourself with the right people
* Do things that you can be proud of.
And cyber bullying? He says get rid of it.

" It's so easy to fix the problem if you delete the stuff and if you're willing to think positive thoughts about yourself."

The kids at OMS took away some key points.

" I like the points he made to take from it and when you're at the situation to ask yourself the different questions and go from there," said Natalie Rhine, OMS 8th grader.

Dawson Berger, also in 8th grade at OMS, says he will remember Mike's words about bullies.

"I think what he is trying to say is don't let it get in your head. You should just worry about yourself and don't think about what other people think of you."

Mike's father died when he was a baby and he says he works with kids now because he wishes someone had told him these things when he was young.

When they're faced with a bully they can say, 'I know you feel that way but I am not going to change how I feel about myself because I am really comfortable with who I am.'"

When he isn't working in schools, Mike is focused on a non profit he started a few years ago, called the HCM Foundation, to help local families deal with a cancer diagnosis.

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