U's back County FA's campaign.
Under 18s in Essex have been invited by Colchester United and the Essex County FA to continue using the Twitter hashtag #BullyFreeEssex to continue the legacy of the recent Anti-Bullying Week, and three U’s players have shown their support for the campaign by wearing special yellow wristbands.
Ryan Dickson, Magnus Okuonghae and Clinton Morrison all sported the free wristbands as the club and association backed Anti-Bullying Week in November.
This year’s theme - Safe, Fun and Connected - called on children and young people to take the lead on creating a future without bullying, using new technologies to promote positive communication.
During Anti-Bullying Week the #BullyFreeEssex catalogued Twitter activity as part of a competition, and Essex County FA Welfare Officer, Helen Hever, would like it to remain even though the week has passed.
She said: “There was some brilliant feedback during the week on Twitter and, just because Anti-Bullying Week has been and gone for another year, it doesn’t mean we can’t continue to use the hashtag to raise awareness of the subject.”
One school, St Andrew’s Infants in Colchester, organised special schemes during the week, which School Sports Coach, Mark Morris, also plans to continue.
He explained: “We appointed ‘Play Leaders’ who promoted fun, safe and friendly play, increasing numbers in participation in our break time activities. The behaviour of the Play Leaders has improved not only at break time but also in lessons and I have had very positive feedback about the five children.
“We have also had children learning about bullying and doing the right thing when there’s a problem. They have made posters saying ‘No to Bullying’ which will be displayed around the school. We rewarded the children for setting a good example in a celebration assembly and a display to show what we have done.
“Since then we have continued with the Play Leaders programme, which runs three days a week - Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The Play Leaders help other children make a positive choice, which prevents bullying as they are playing in an organized and fun game. Children have been organizing their own games of football and playing well with others, which has been their own choice without the help of an adult.”
Amongst the objectives of Anti-Bullying Week was to ensure all children and young people are equipped to recognise and challenge bullying behaviour wherever it happens - whether face-to-face or in cyberspace.
It also equipped schools, colleges and youth service leaders with resources to encourage youth led anti-bullying initiatives and the positive use of new technologies.
“St Andrew’s have shown excellent initiative,” said Helen.
“In club football we’re also lucky to have qualified volunteer Welfare Officers within grassroots clubs and leagues who have been trained to deal with safeguarding issues, including bullying. Everyone should have an understanding of bullying so they can spot if a member of their team is behaving differently. They need to know who to speak to for support.”
Further information is available from the Anti-Bullying Alliance atwww.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk, while the BeatBully website atwww.beatbullying.orgcontains resources for those working directly with children and young people.
For details on all aspects of grassroots football in Essex, visitwww.essexfa.com, follow @EssexCountyFA on Twitter and search for ‘EssexFootball’ on Facebook.