A traveling basketball team brought an anti-bullying message to the Winston-Dillard School District on Thursday. They took their skills and comedy routine to Douglas High School after putting on a show for the Winston Middle School students earlier in the day.
The Flight Squad is a team of former college and pro players from around the country that uses slam dunks, trick shots and a comedy routine, along with kid-friendly commentary to get their messages across about combating bullying and harassment.
Yuri Belizaire, the host and DJ of the event, said the team members, who come from different backgrounds, are trying to spread a positive message to the youth of the nation.
“We want them to know we’ve been through the same struggles as they’re going through, and we’re just trying to give them a positive outlook on life. And we do that through basketball,” he said. Belizaire said everyone has been bullied at one time or another, so most of the kids can relate to what they talk about. “We’re no different than anyone else, we’ve been through what they’re going through, and the bullying aspect is something we like to harp on and get it resolved because it’s really not necessary,” he said.
Belizaire told the students there are three types of bullying in today’s society, including physical bullying, verbal bullying, and most recently, cyberbullying.
Douglas High senior Josh Herrera said the bullying message was important to him. He and a friend have both been victims of bullying, so it is needed, he said. “I like how they were able to bring up how there are different types of bullying, because most people think of punching, but it spans different spectrums,” he said. “It goes anywhere from cyberbullying to just remarks down the hallway.” He said cyberbullying has become very prevalent.
“It’s a terrible thing that something as useful as the internet can be used to put people down,” he said. Junior Mackenzie Gillis said the messages hit home with her. “I think it was very inspiring because I’ve gone through some of the same stuff,” she said. “I was bullied in middle school.”
The Flight Squad gets the kids and the teachers involved in the show, combining dancing, high-energy music and basketball skills.
Flight Squad members Kevin Currington, left, and Yuri Belizaire entertain students during an exhibition and anti-bullying assembly Thursday.
Kevin Currington, an Art Therapy major at Marygrove College in Detriot, Michigan, before becoming a member of the Flight Squad, said he enjoyed making people in the audience feel good while also discouraging bullying. And the timing couldn’t be better, since the event was held during Bullying Prevention Week.
“It’s giving back to the youth when you put a smile on their face and give off that positive message so it can carry on for them into adulthood,” Currington said.
Corey Classic from Beaumont, Texas, just joined the team two weeks ago, but he likes being able to have fun playing basketball while communicating with kids in a positive way at the same time.
“We live in a social media time, and I have a lot of kids that follow me from school assemblies and they tell me that I impact them in a positive way, and that right there means more than a little orange ball ever could,” Classic said.
The Flight Squad team, which is based in Los Angeles, was in California before coming to Oregon, and visited Corvallis on Wednesday night. The team put on a show at the Winston Middle School on Thursday morning, then headed for California right after the assembly at Douglas High School. They will be on the road until the end of their tour in the middle of May.