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Ogdensburg children learn how to create a “Bully-Free Zone”

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OGDENSBURG — Storyteller Queen Nur created a “Bully-Free Zone” at the Advantage Afternoon Program on Tuesday at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, 809 Park St.

Taking on the role of a traditional African storyteller, or griot, Queen Nur taught Ogdensburg students about the dangers of bullying using folk tales, fables and hip-hop.

“The traditional role of a griot is to tell stories that teach history, values and morals,” Queen Nur said. “It’s a natural fit to teach bullying through this kind of storytelling.”

Music or accompaniment is part of the griot tradition, Queen Nur said. She was accompanied by Dwight James, a jazz drummer for more than 50 years. He played a variety of African drums, including long, wood and cajoon, to make a variety of animal sounds and to get kids dancing.

At one point, children joined the “Bully-Free Zone” band, playing bells and rain sticks.

Queen Nur has been storytelling for more than 21 years. She regularly performs more than 10 different programs for adults and students of all grade levels. She is also the president-elect of the National Association of Black Storytellers. Music and a call-and-response method are the easiest ways to make children listen and feel like they are a part of a story, Queen Nur said.

“The musical and the stories and words are one agglomerated event,” she said. “The rhythm in the story, the words and the musical accompaniment all work together for one common goal, so with the African oral tradition, we are educating as well as entertaining.”

The main goal of her show “Bully-Free Zone” is to encourage children to have a sense of self-worth, Queen Nur said.

“I want them to see themselves as the number one bully-free zone,” she said. “They can’t be bullied and they can’t inhabit a bully’s traits. It’s just so important for children to know and love who they are.”

Encouraging children to love who they are is the best way to stop bullying, Queen Nur said.

“So many people accept what people say about them when bullies pick a fight or tease them,” she said. “But if you can get children to understand who they are and then value who they are, then they can understand that bullying has nothing to do with them. That it is about the bully. That is the number one way to stop bullying and to keep kids from becoming bullies themselves.”

The program was sponsored by Ogdensburg Command Performances.

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