The North Augusta Elementary School pupils assembled around the court’s edges 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 afterward.
Blakes’ visit to the school was the prize for a contest held by James Brown Arena. Schools were given a contest code, and the school with the most tickets purchased with their code for Friday’s Globetrotter game won the visit.
Blakes taught the kids the ABCs of Bullying Prevention, a community outreach program of the Globetrotters aimed at elementary school-age children. The program emphasizes 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 youngsters.
Blakes said the team has performed outreach programs 420 times as a unit. In every city the Globetrotters visit, members do media rounds, television and radio spots, and visit schools and hospitals, he said.
“We’re doing (bullying program) now because we’ve partnered with the National Campaign to Stop Violence,” Blakes said after the demonstration.
Kindergartner 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 grown-up or your teacher,” he said.
Guidance counselor Jean Taylor said the program fit perfectly with the guidance curriculum she is following.
“It was nice for them to hear it from somebody famous,” she said. “I can follow up with all this material and continue on with his magic circle and his ABCs of bullying.”
Reach Lisa Kaylor at (706) 828-3884