Be An Upstander
Senior Public Health Educator John Martin and Director of School Health Education Nancy Hemendinger, MPA, brought an interactive and informational presentation “Being an Upstander” to the Eastern Suffolk BOCES Islip Career Center (ICC). Students from 22 different Special Career Education programs at ICC participated in either the morning or afternoon session.
The presentation began on a serious note as Hemendinger spoke about bullying and how people should move from silence, a bystander, to action, an upstander. She showed the students a short video Out of the Shadows about body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. “Be careful not to judge; we all need to work on that. Also, people get into the habit of putting themselves down but you need to love yourself,” she said. The resounding message was, don’t judge, we are all in this together, and beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and sexualities.
Martin launched into his portion of the presentation by tossing beach balls into the audience. Words of encouragement such as ‘you are amazing’ were written on them. He lit up the room with his positive energy, persuading all the students to participate in a variety of interactive activities. He asked the students to pledge participation in the group games, even if they felt awkward and silly, because ‘we will all do it together and we will all feel awkward together like one, big, awkward, silly Islip Career Center family.’
They got to know each other through a game
Martin devised. Everyone formed a circle and one-by-one each student said their
name, everyone responded and said “Hi,” then the student shared what they liked
to do, and the group said “Nice.” It was an ice-breaking activity that served
to introduce the students to each other and pay compliments. Martin said,
“Kindness is a behavior that we all need to practice. Recognizing a person and
affirming what they said is important and kind.”