By Anne Levin
At the YWCA Princeton’s annual Stand Against Racism event last year, CEO Judy Hutton made a disturbing discovery.
“I was talking to Lynne Azarchi, the executive director of Kidsbridge, and she told me that bullying and racism actually can manifest itself at age 3,” Hutton said this week. “That blew me away.”
Hutton started to pay attention at the YWCA’s preschool classes, at which some 40 3-year-olds are enrolled. There are 84 children in the entire program, from infants to 5-year-olds. “I saw that the teachers were working on this,” she said. “It’s real. So I told Lynne, we need to do a workshop on this for kids and for parents.”
The resulting collaboration with the Ewing-based Kidsbridge Tolerance Center will introduce an anti-bullying program to the YWCA’s preschool next month, for children and their parents. The program will include several interactive activities on how to prevent bullying, from drawing to listening skills. “We’ve always done anti-racism work here,” said Hutton. “It just makes a lot of sense.”
Kidsbridge, it turns out, has been a presence in Princeton for several years. Fourth-grade students in all four public elementary schools have been taking part in programs either at Kidsbridge’s headquarters or in the schools themselves.
“We either work with them here or in their classrooms, wherever they are comfortable,” said Azarchi. “I would like to do a lot more. It would be great to do preschool, second grade, fourth grade, sixth grade, and more.” more