Eight Hilliard students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades stood in front of a group of fourth- and fifth-grade students at Avery Elementary School on Feb. 20 to address bullying.

Eight Hilliard students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades stood in front of a group of fourth- and fifth-grade students at Avery Elementary School on Feb. 20 to address bullying.

The mission was to use a game-show format to help younger students become aware of the various types of bullying and understand the importance of the bystander in such situations.

The 40-minute program, according to Jill Smock, director of Youth to Youth International, is called "Stand By, Stand Up."

It was developed as a joint project between the Hilliard Youth Council, an offshoot of the Hilliard Youth and Family Commission (HYFC), and Youth to Youth International.

Smock, who is also a member of HYFC, and Stephanie Christie, a prevention specialist with the Franklin County Youth to Youth, said the program is a piece of Youth to Youth, which was created in 1982.

The goal of the new program is to make the school climate a positive one for all students.

Bullying was starting to show up in the fourth and fifth grades when students followed the lead of their peers in saying negative, rather than positive, things about other students.

Smock, now the parent of a senior and two seventh-grade students, began to see how Youth to Youth and the HYFC's Youth Council could work together about six years ago.

A year ago, the bullying program began as a pilot program.

Christie is in charge of the "Stand By, Stand Up" bullying program, according to Smock. She said Christie has worked with Hilliard Youth Council members to create and perform the presentation.

"The staff person sets it up," she said, "and the students take it away."

The first time the middle-school and sixth-grade students addressed younger pupils they did so at Britton Elementary School and Tharp Sixth Grade School, according to Smock.

"In middle school," she said, "they work on asset building."

Christie and Smock said 35 to 40 Hilliard students are training to conduct the bullying presentations and represent all three middle schools and the two sixth-grade buildings as well as Sunrise.

In addition to Britton and Tharp, Christie and Smock said, the students also made a third presentation at St. Brendan's and for the Ohio Prevention and Education Conference.

In the spring, a presentation will be put on for Hoffman Trails Elementary School.

Eight students work together as a team as they enter the schools.

Christie picked up Samantha Ryland and Ella Wilson at Weaver Middle School, Eric Bennett, Mychal Culpepper and Emily Dublin at Memorial Middle School, Taylor Brennen and Garrett Contizano at Heritage Middle School and Kaetlin Bowling at Tharp Sixth Grade to participate in the activities at Avery.

She said she has worked with that particular group for a month.

"Nerves never hit them until they are there and they see the audience," she said of all the presenters.

Ryland peered out at the Avery audience and seemed shocked as she realized that the audience was "sitting so close," according to Christie.

Christie kicked off the event with a video addressing the different kinds of bullying.

"Bullying is not only in school, but on TV, in the movies and books," she said.

Media clips from television and the movies demonstrate the power of the media to influence how kids bully each other, said Smock.

The older students draw contestants for an interactive game show, similar to Family Feud, and test the students' knowledge of what is bullying and ways bystanders can help a bully victim, according to Christie and Smock.

"The kids seemed to have fun and the teachers enjoyed it," said Christie.

Middle-school students are often used in the elementary schools, because they are close in age to the fourth- and fifth-grade students.

"The little kids look up to them," Christie said. "It is a good experience for the middle-school students."

She said she would not recommend the program to stand by itself, but the educators at Avery had already introduced the issue of bullying to the students.

"Like with anything kids forget after a couple of days," she said.

With the topics already being introduced and programs in the schools, Christie said, teachers have something to fall back on.

The final challenge by the middle-school students to the audience before the program comes to a close, according to Smock, is to help make their school a positive place to be by now allowing bullying.

The day after Christie spent the morning driving middle-school and sixth-grade students to and from the elementary school in order to do the presentation, she conducted a training session for Franklin County to get more students involved. Smock said the idea is to expand to all of Franklin County.