Beating bullying

CHILDREN driven from mainstream education because of bullying took to the road during Anti-Bullying Week to tell others about their experiences and how they have overcome them. Students from the Red Balloon Learner Centre visited St Anne s School in Godma

CHILDREN driven from mainstream education because of bullying took to the road during Anti-Bullying Week to tell others about their experiences and how they have overcome them.

Students from the Red Balloon Learner Centre visited St Anne's School in Godmanchester to perform a new piece of drama designed to prevent children from facing the trauma of bullying.

Education consultant Dr Carrie Herbert, who created the Red Balloon Learner Centre in Cambridge in 1996, said: "In spite of the work which schools do to prevent it, bullying is endemic. For those most severely affected it can be a devastating experience.

"At Red Balloon, we concentrate on creating a safe environment where children can learn to look forward again, to rebuild their confidence and self-esteem.


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"As the weeks pass, we see our students relax and grow, and for many we are the last resort."

Red Balloon caters for children from across Cambridgeshire who have been so badly bullied they have been forced out of their schools. It is named after Le Ballon Rouge, the story of a boy whose balloon is burst by bullies but is then protected by all the balloons in the world.

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As the only centre of its kind in the UK, Red Balloon also contributes to the national focus on bullying and, for the second year running, a number of its students have devised and performed a special piece of work which toured four schools in the region including St Anne's, Papworth Everard Primary School and St Ives Primary.

The new piece of work which embraces film, music and dance as well as drama looks at the experience of bullying and being bullied and focuses on the role of the bystander.

Under the slogan See It. Get help. Stop It, Red Balloon students provided workshops for pupils from Years 5 and 6 who performed their own piece of work.

Jo Buffery, who is responsible for creative arts at Red Balloon, said: "I see the students growing in stature and confidence because they have something to say and pupils and teachers at the schools get something very tangible out of it. "

Red Balloon celebrated its 10th anniversary last month and it now intends to expand its activities with the hope that it will eventually be able to help all children who experience bullying.

INFORMATION: To find out more about Red Balloon, at 57 Warkworth Terrace in Cambridge, visit www.redballoonlearner.co.uk, call 01223 357714 or e-mail redballoon@redballoonlearner.org.uk

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