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.

The Assembly

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 presentation 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 schedules.

All assemblies require participation of classroom teachers and other supervising adults.

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The Assembly Package

The Waking Up Courage Assembly package features:

  • for middle and high schools: up to 3 assemblies per day, each lasting 45 - 60 minutes, for up to 250 students per assembly
  • for K - 6: up to 3 assemblies per day, each lasting 30 - 60 minutes (depending on grade level), for up to 125 students per assembly

Our highly-skilled presenters use proven age-appropriate techniques, including music, video and audience participation, 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.

Follow-Up Activities

The Assembly package also includes a guide with a summary of key concepts from the assembly, and instructions for 3 follow-up classroom activities. It also includes a list of additional projects that can be done with the school community or in the classroom. These activities 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).

Benefits Include:

  •     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.

For cost information, download our Program and Services Guide

Funding Resources: 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.

"Courage is fire and bullying is smoke." - Benjamin Disraeli
The assembly has encouraged (our) students to speak up to their peers and parents about inappropriate behaviors they've noticed or experienced, and has opened the door to change. It's been great to be able to reference the upstander messages when I am in dialogue with our bystanders and aggressors. Thanks again for your support and communication in ensuring that our assemblies were a success! - Brett Ploumen, Counselor, Adams Middle School, Redondo Beach, CA
I was able to attend the Waking Up Courage Assembly for students and staff last Friday. It was so powerful! The school is still talking about it. I will definitely look into rolling this presentation out on to other campuses early next year. Charlene Hamilton, Program Manager - Suspending Kids to School, Waco ISD, Texas