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BullyProofing: C3 Athletics’ Bullying-Prevention Program Launches at Greenwich High School
Martial arts gym reacts to local bullying-related student death by promoting prevention tactics and the positive influence of martial arts
Greenwich, CT—In an effort to raise awareness during October’s National Bullying Prevention Month, Stamford-based martial arts gym C3 Athletics launched its new BullyProofing program at Greenwich High School last week—and aims to expand to additional schools in the future. Throughout the course of the program, several C3 instructors and gym members spoke about various forms of bullying to students of the school, where a sophomore and bullying victim recently took his own life.
“The end of bullying begins with me,” was the contract that Stephane Smarth, who founded BullyProofing, had students in attendance sign. While the contract was a physical printout, it was representative of an inner pledge he urged all audience members to make to themselves: to end bullying by taking a stand on the individual level.
It was the tragic suicide of Greenwich High School sophomore Bart Palosz this past August that drove Smarth to create the program. “When I heard about it, it hit me pretty hard to the point where I felt like I needed to do something,” says Smarth. “Something had to be done, either in his honor or just for everyone who has been a victim of bullying. It hit me really hard because I know what it’s like; growing up I was bullied too. It wasn’t until I got to middle school or high school where it wasn’t a factor because I was part of a team—a family—in sports.”
Determined to make a change, Smarth partnered with PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center to reach out to youths at the school where the tragedy occurred. The end result: C3 Athletics established itself as a PACER Champion group, which the national organization defines as those who collaborate with PACER by using its bullying prevention resources to “directly engage, educate and empower students.” “We believe there’s a great influence in a community coming together to declare that the end of bullying begins within each of us, and we believe being a PACER Champion is a great way to get this done,” Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, explained while commending the BullyProofing program.
“We have all kinds of organizations and businesses contribute to our bullying prevention campaign, and martial arts studios have been amongst them since we started in 2006,” she continues. “It’s a cultural topic; they encompass the same values as the bullying prevention world. They promote respect, tolerance, and teaching values, as well as working together to create change in a positive way.”
During the October 23rd BullyProofing presentation at Greenwich High School, the C3 Athletics team not only informed students of facts, figures, and prevention methods, but also performed demonstrations of the various disciplines available at the martial arts gym. Several hundred students attended the optional program in two separate sessions.
“Regrettably, in today’s society, bullying is many children’s reality, but we feel that we have the proper platform to show an alternate route to a better life for both the bully and the bullied,” explains Sean George, owner of C3 Athletics.
Diane Fox, director of student activities at Greenwich High School, praised the program, saying, “It was great; both faculty and students really liked it. A lot of times these programs involve a lot of talking, but this was different. It was very engaging. BullyProofing is a great way for the kids to not only learn about a new activity, but also discover an outlet to get some of their aggression out, or direct their energy to a positive source.”
With the success of BullyProofing’s initial presentation, as well as the highly positive feedback from Greenwich High School, C3 Athletics aims to take the program to additional high schools and middle schools in the area.
“I think it’s great for students to be exposed to BullyProofing because martial arts teaches you life skills,” says Fox. “Not only is it a healthy choice, but it’s a choice that can offer stress relief, and is something you can take into adulthood. It informs youths of a positive option and gives them life skills they can use.”
For more information, visit c3athletics.com or pacer.org/bullying.
About C3 Athletics
C3 Athletics, located in Stamford, is Connecticut’s leading fitness and combat sports center. The 5,500-square-foot facility and its knowledgeable staff offer specialized programs in the areas of Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, strength and conditioning, and personal fitness—with a flexible schedule of classes available during the mornings, afternoons, and evenings. To learn more about the gym, BullyProofing, or schedule an interview, contact C3 Athletics staff below.
330 Fairfield Avenue
Stamford, CT 06902