NORTH LEWISBURG – Triad Middle School seventh graders got an education in cyber safety, communicating with others and leadership during Leadership Day on Friday, May 19.
Students heard from several speakers on the topics of respect, positive relationships, life choices/sexting, self-esteem, diversity and social media safety. Speakers included Prosecutor Kevin Talebi, Urbana Police Officer Chris Snyder, and representatives from Consolidated Care, the Champaign County Board of Developmental Disabilities, the Mental Health Drug and Alcohol Services Board of Logan and Champaign Counties and the Ohio Association of County Boards.
The event, a first for the district, got started on the suggestion of developmental disabilities board staff. Discovery Coordinator Heather Barns said she and Community Connections Facilitator Jenny White saw a Logan County program with a similar focus and wanted to bring it to Champaign County schools.
“Our ultimate hope is it helps open up the kids’ eyes and broaden their perspective of their lives and others’ lives,” she said. “We are hoping to build that inner self-esteem that ultimately helps them in every aspect of their life.”
Middle school officials thought it would be a good addition to what they already were doing with their students, Middle School Principal Duane Caudill said.
“We thought it would be a great idea,” he said. “It’s part of the curriculum we are trying to build with character education.”
There was sober silence while students listened to Talebi’s presentation on sexting, noting that once a person hits “send” on that text or message, it can’t be retrieved.
“Once you send an image, you relinquish control. You do that trusting the other person, but you don’t know who else will see it,” he said, adding that one image could affect a student’s future job prospects.
Talebi said when he gets applicants for jobs in his office, he checks background information on the internet. Images don’t disappear once they are on the web.
A less sobering discussion came from White, who demonstrated how those with disabilities must navigate the world. She had a number of activities that included opening candy with thick gloves (to mimic mobility issues), filling cups of water with blindfolds (mirroring how a blind person must do it) and carrying a ping pong ball in a spoon across the room (showing balance issues).
“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” seventh grader Skyler Griffin said after finally opening a piece of candy with those gloves.
Casey S. Elliott may be reached at 937-652-1331 ext. 1772 or on Twitter @UDCElliott.