COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - More than 70 Muscogee County students packed into the D.A. Turner YMCA gym along with Gracie Barra Columbus to make the first move against bullying.
Since 2010, Grace Barra has been teaching students a three step approach that Jiu Jitsu instructor Josh Bowlin says will help counteract bullying.
Bowlin explains the steps are "to ignore, tell an adult if the bullying continues and you use your Jiu Jitsu, you know, you'll go 'well, I told them'."
Bowlin stresses the importance of only using step three after you've exhausted steps one and two. Bowlin taught the approach, then had Jiu Jitsu students around the same age as camp-goers show how to defend themselves if the bullying continues. Students I talked to say bullying does happen in their schools.
Jayce McCoy, a fifth grade student says "bullying at our school, when something happens, mostly it's stopped. The kids will go and tell a teacher and the teacher will handle it."
Childcare Director, Jed 'Coach T' Tuiolosega says that's not always the case and this strikes the core of youth development for students at the D.A. Turner YMCA.
"Kids have some challenges that they go through and developing their skills, kids need some direction and guidance. The YMCA develops those programs into character development," Tuiolosega explains.
Coach T says the biggest part of that challenge is dealing with adversity at school eight hours a day. Third grader Alexa McCoy says this demonstration taught her how to deal with the bullying responsibly.
"When you get older, you're not going to have people to tell you that you're going to get in trouble or that someone's going to come up to you. You just have to learn when you're younger," McCoy adds.
The D.A. Turner YMCA tells me they plan to continue partnerships like the one with Gracie Barra to continue character development for their students. Gracie Barra will be doing another no bullying presentation on April 5 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Frank D. Chester Recreation Center.