Children at the Elkin Public Library learned a special lesson on Thursday when Captain Friendship and the Amazing Amigo teamed up to defeat the Bully Bandit.
As part of the Every Hero Has A Story summer program, Actors with the Bright Star Touring Theatre of Asheville visited the area and gave the children an opportunity to laugh, learn and ask questions about bullying. Covering topics such as how to deal with bullies, what to do if you have a bully, how it affects you when you’re bullied and, finally, how to help the bully, the children gained knowledge on how to handle difficult situations.
“Real heroes are the ones that step in when someone is being bullied,” Captain Friendship, played by Zoey Norris, stated. “It takes more strength than Superman has.”
As Captain Friendship enthusiastically engaged the crowd in a blue wig, cape and brightly colored outfit, the Bully Bandit, portrayed by Philip Eggers, appeared and began taunting the superhero. The bandit, who the group later discovered was mean because his parents move often and therefore doesn’t have any friends, mocked the audience members before running off.
While Captain Friendship and her assistant the Amazing Amigo were preparing for the reappearance of the dreaded bully, they surveyed the crowd to ask if they had been bullied themselves. As they asked the question, nearly every hand was raised. By using techniques suggested by the crowd, the superhero and audience members were able to recruit friends to help defeat the evil bully.
“We can walk away and tell a teacher, tell a grown up or talk to your friends because they’re there to help you,” said Captain Friendship.
As the bully reappeared, Captain Friendship, along with audience participants, chanted at the bully, “Enough is enough, it’s time to be friends.”
Once the crowd confronted the bully, he fell to the ground and snapped out of his awful demeanor. “I didn’t realize words had so much power,” said the Bully Bandit.
With loud cheers and a room full of applause, the children celebrated the victory over the audacious, yet hilariously cartoonish, bully. Once the show ended, Norris and Eggers offered the opportunity for guests to approach them with questions about bullying or any other concerns they may have.
The program was part of the annual summer series that features several events for different age groups. “We have a different theme every year,” said Wendy Giudici, program organizer.
This year’s theme features events titled The Amazing Adventure, Discovering the Super Hero in You!, and See Super Heroes! Be a Super Hero! The themes help children to interpret the meaning of super heroes, coupled with the importance of reading.
Thursday’s event featured 96 children during the first performance and more were expected in the second. Giudici, who has been with the library for 11 years, stated that the program has grown every year she has been a part of it. “When I started there were 35 to 40 kids and now we’ve grown to having 200 to 250 every week,” Giudici said.
While everyone who attends will get a free goody, children that attend three or more events will receive a free book courtesy of the library.
According to Giudici, parents, grandparents and guardians who enjoy taking their children to the free events also will frequent the other area programs at libraries in Jonesville, Boonville and Yadkinville as they are all scheduled on different days.
“There’s nothing objectional and it’s in the air conditioning,” said Giudici, explaining that parents can expect wholesome fun from the events.
Along with the superhero theme, the library also has prominently displayed playaways that incorporate the theme. Playaways are mp3 players with a book preloaded.
“They’re great for car trips,” said Giudici. “The children can listen to those and the parents can still listen to whatever they like in the front.”
For future events, check the community calendar listed in The Tribune or visit the Elkin Public Library.
Karen Holbrook may be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbrook00.