The multicolored basketball glided smoothly around Harlem Globetrotter Anthony “Buckets” Blakes’ torso and under his legs as he stood in a circle in the middle of North Augusta Elementary School’s outdoor basketball court.
The children assembled around the court cheered and clapped as the ball spun on his finger and head and made rings around his arms and shoulders.
“That ball was magic,” first grader Matthew Porter said later.
Blakes’ March 11 visit to the school was the prize awarded for a contest held by the James Brown Arena. Schools were given a contest code, and the school with the most tickets purchased with their code for last Friday’s Harlem Globetrotter game won.
Blakes taught the kids the ABCs of Bullying Prevention, a community outreach program of the Harlem Globetrotters aimed at elementary school-aged children. The program stresses “action,” “bravery” and “compassion” in dealing with bullies.
One of his tips was for kids to hang out in groups that have similar interests, such as art or music.
“Bullies tend to stay away from groups,” he told the pupils.
Blakes said the team performed outreach programs 420 times as a unit. In every city the team visits, members do media rounds, television and radio spots, and visit schools and hospitals, he said.
“We’re doing (the ABCs of Bullying Prevention) now because we’ve partnered with the National Campaign to Stop Violence,” Blakes said after the program.
Kindergartener Lucy Goff said she learned to walk away if she’s being bullied.
Matthew said he also learned to walk away if someone is hitting or pushing him.
“When somebody’s not going to stop doing things to you, you can tell the principal or a grownup, or your teacher,” he said.
School guidance counselor Jean Taylor said the program fits perfectly with guidance curriculum she is following regarding bullying prevention.
“It was nice for them to hear it from somebody famous. I can follow up with all this material and continue on with his magic circle and his ABCs of bullying,” she said.