Magician’s aid sought to combat bullying

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — There is nothing magical about being the victim of bullying.

Frequently, the headlines tell the tales of young people who commit suicide because they are so tormented by bullies and by the public humiliation that stems from being bullied.

No longer is bullying confined to face-to-face contact. In this technological era, children are subjected to bullying through social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. A cruel rumor or unfair accusation can spread like wildfire.

Children become the targets of bullies for a number of reasons. While the behavior of bullies is inexcusable, it is even more shameful when children are bullied because they get free or reduced meals at school.

“There are a whole bunch of articles in the news (and real-life stories) about how bad bullying can get,” according to Bridgton resident Marlena Buzzell.

There are “kids who have to leave the school because it gets so bad. Kids (who are bullied) can become suicidal. It is quite a serious matter,” she said.

In recent years, Buzzell came across a program based in Utah called the Golden Rule Project. This presentation uses magic to address bullying. The magician happened to be in Maine last July, and a free presentation was arranged at The Ballroom in Harrison. As a testament to how effective the message was, an educator from Rangeley who attended the free event in Harrison contacted the founder of the Golden Rule project.

“She wrote a letter to the founder of project. She said, ‘Gee, I was just so impressed. Can we get him to come to Rangeley?’ That teacher from Rangeley put the thought in my mind,” said Buzzell who has written letters to the School Administrative District (SAD) 61, proposing the presentation be considered at local schools.

Lately, Buzzell has joined forces with other community members from Opportunity Alliance and CrossWalk Outreach to bring The Golden Rule Project into area schools.

It is one of the oldest rules in the book — to treat other people the same way you’d like to be treated, and yet it has fallen by the wayside, according to Dick Enright, who heard Buzzell speak at a recent Bridgton Rotary Club meeting.

“Kids who get free meals get picked on. When I was a kid, there were a few jerks. But now, it is a lot more deep-seated,” Enright said, recommending that the eye-opening magic act make an appearance at local schools.

According to Buzzell, the magician, Steffen Soule, is an incredible professional who has received the Kennedy Center Arts Award.

“He has done magic shows for Google, for thousands of people,” she said.

“One person had the impression that it was only for young children. He has designed the magic show to be tailored to all grades,” she said. “The message of bullying gets more complex, the older that they get,” she said.

On Monday, Buzzell plans to give a PowerPoint presentation as part of a strategic-planning meeting. The brainstorming session will take place at 11 a.m. in the large meeting room in the Naples Town Office.

“It is really important to get community support behind this. So, if the grant does comes through, we can follow through with scheduling” magic shows, Buzzell said.

Please follow and like us: