Battling bullying with basketball

Chase Pratt lent his face to the demonstration at the assembly, letting Basketball Jones show off his skills on the tip of his nose. Photo by Jenny Gilbert.
Chase Pratt lent his face to the demonstration at the assembly, letting Basketball Jones show off his skills on the tip of his nose. Photo by Jenny Gilbert.

Best known for his motivational speaking at grade schools, Jim “Basketball” Jones paid a visit to Leonard Elementary on Tuesday, Nov. 13 to encourage students to stand up against bullying.

In his anti-bullying assemblies, Jones tells students to be “upstanders” rather than bystanders and apply the golden rule by treating others the way they  want to be treated.  Along the way, Jones keeps the young students’ attention by showing off his basketball skills, even including students in some of the tricks.

“He’s constantly talking and having the kids repeat things back to him,” Leonard Principal Paul McDevitt said of Jones. “Some of the tricks he does are not necessarily related to the message, they’re just part of the fun he does throughout the entire show… He has a lot of messages about doing things for others throughout his show.”

Jones is someone Leonard has out every few  years, and McDevitt said he can always count on Jones to give his students a laugh while teaching them something along the way.

“The kids really get a kick out of it,” McDevitt said. “It’s just one of those assemblies I know is going to be something really fun for our kids. He pretty much has them laughing and giggling for 45 minutes.”

Jones keeps the students’ attention by juggling and spinning his basketballs and talks about topics like tests, bullies and character all the while. At Leonard, he gave students the opportunity to encourage their classmates.

McDevitt hopes to see that encouragement among the students in the hallways.

“Everybody can be involved in making this school and this world a better place,” he said.

The assembly also served as Leonard’s kick off to the district’s Olweus Bully Prevention Program, which every elementary school in Oxford will be participating in with the goal of fostering kindness and  respect among their students.

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