Mark Brown, the director of community relations at Great American Opportunities, has spoken to more than 1 million students — mostly sixth- through eighth-graders — at schools in the United States and Canada, talking with them about the consequences of children being verbally and physically abused by their classmates.
He gave three presentations at White Pines and Lakeshore middle schools on Friday.
“The kids connect with him because what he says touches their raw emotions,” said Michelle Maitner, a White Pines seventh-grade teacher who organized that school’s event.
Brown began his presentation by telling jokes about himself. Then the 44-year-old showed slides of his family — three children and his wife of 30 years — and told a story about watching Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” with them. With character impersonations, Brown spoke about how the villagers took weapons against the Beast.
In the same way, Brown said, kids take weapons to school and use them to attack classmates who are different in some way or another.
“Words, attitudes and choices are weapons,” Brown said. He told students that he had been beaten up for being different when he was in the sixth grade.
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