The Waking Up Courage Assembly
Helping Bystanders Become Upstanders
Because bullying is not OK, and silence isn't either
Engaging students is the most cost effective way to reduce bullying behavior, because students, see, hear and know things adults don't, and can intervene in ways adults can't. The Waking Up Courage Assembly, together with other initiatives like Safe School Ambassadors, can help engage and empower students to stand up, speak up, and build a positive school climate.
A Waking Up Courage Assembly is a powerful, student-centered experience that enlists, unites, and empowers K-12 students to take a stand and speak up when they see bullying and violence among their peers. This high-energy event delivers a compelling and consistent message to all students that bullying is not OK and silence isn't either. It introduces them to youth-friendly language and skills they can use to safely and effectively defuse, de-escalate and stop bullying behavior. The Assembly can be easily incorporated into existing school bell schedules.
All assemblies require participation of classroom teachers and other supervising adults.
The Assembly Package
The Waking Up Courage Assembly package features up to 3 assemblies per day, delivered by highly skilled presenters. Each Assembly is a 60 minute presentation, for up to 125 Elementary students or up to 200 Middle or High students. Proven, age-appropriate techniques including music, video and audience participation, are used to engage students in a self-discovery process that:
- Provides a common vocabulary that sensitizes students to the mean behavior that is too often ignored, accepted, or not even recognized as being mean.
- Promotes understanding of the effect of bullying on the Targets and the Aggressors, as well as the impact on the bystanders, the staff and the whole school/community.
- Increases empathy, "enlightened self-interest," and motivation to take action, both on and off campus.
- Helps bystanders speak up by providing effective, youth-friendly communication skills, language and actions that all students can use to safely and effectively intervene with their friends and classmates.
The Assembly package also includes follow-up activities for three class meetings:
- Meeting #1: reviews the Assembly and allows students to contribute ideas to the process of creating a school pledge.
- Meeting #2: explores the costs of mistreatment on a more personal level, which deepens students' commitment to take action. It also includes the signing of their school pledge.
- Meeting #3: provides students with further practice and coaching of their Upstander Actions.
These meetings are designed to be either led by an adult (classroom teacher or guest facilitator like the school counselor), or co-led by adults and students (students are typically older, selected for their status and poise, and provided with a brief training to prepare them for their role).
- Establishes Common Campus Language: Creates a common understanding and language for naming hurtful behavior, eliminating the excuse of 'But she laughed?' or 'I didn't know?'.
- Encourages Helpful Interventions: Introduces skills so students can resolve many issues without adult involvement, which reduces the time administrators and teachers spend on discipline.
- Supports a Whole-School Climate Approach: Is a catalytic activity that can mobilize students and staff, and increase the school's commitment to making school climate and connectedness a priority and a cornerstone of the school's mission.
A Waking Up Courage Assembly can cost as little as $5 per student, depending on the number of Assemblies conducted and the number of students participating. For more detailed cost information, see our Programs & Services Guide page or download the PDF.
Funding Resources: Click here to learn more about available sources of funding for this program.
Maximizing the Impact:
An assembly is a powerful way to inspire, but its ability to sustain student action is limited. Therefore, a Waking Up Courage Assembly will have greater impact when implemented as part of a systemic whole school climate approach, one that includes ongoing and complementary student-engagement strategies like the Safe School Ambassadors (SSA) Program. SSA engages student leaders from the school's diverse cliques and groups, equips them with a more comprehensive set of communication and intervention skills, and provides them with ongoing support and training, which helps to ensure that socially influential Upstanders are modeling pro-social action to the entire student body throughout the year.