School uses work of city native to combat bullying
Ashley Elementary is using the work of Karen D. Cuthrell to teach students that bullying is never OK. Such lessons are especially relevant this month; October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
Teachers have been using Cuthrell’s “Meet the Feeling Friends” to facilitate a wider discussion on the topic. In the world created by Cuthrell, a slew of cuddly critters live on Feeling Friends Island, but their world of peace and mutual respect is disrupted by a newcomer, Billy Bully the Billy Goat, who wreaks havoc everywhere he goes.
Last Friday, Ashley students brought Cuthrell’s characters to life as they performed “No Bullying…It’s About Love!” In the show, each Feeling Friend Island resident, including Lotta Love the LovaRoo, tells Billy Bully how they feel when he bullies them. Their words eventually convince him that his bullying ways are harmful.
Assistant Principal Alicia Bailey says the “Feeling Friends” is the right way to teach Ashley students the rights and wrongs of bullying.
“We have got to reach our students where they are,” she said. “Our students are auditory learners. What we know at Ashley Elementary is that our students love stories, music and characters. In this interactive performance … we give our students what they love!”
Cuthrell, a native of Winston-Salem, is a product of the city’s The Little Theatre and a former Miss Black North Carolina.
The author, composer and devoted mother created “The Feeling Friends” to help her young daughter deal with the difficulties of depression. More than 15 years later, Cuthrell has written a 20-book series and created an accompanying CD. Her successful program has been praised by child psychologists and parents alike and thousands of families enjoy and learn from the live show that Cuthrell performs nationwide.
Cuthrell was slated to attend Friday’s performance and donate 500 of her books – enough for each student to have one.