metro _>> mentsh of the month
First-grader Maddie Gold
and her co-host, fourth-
grader Mia Dudek, both
of Huntington Woods, in a
screen shot from Maddie's
pcoming video about
Big Topi C
Special to the Jewish News
n true talk show style, children
at Burton Elementary School in
Huntington Woods sit on oversized
green chairs in front of a camera. Firing
away questions read from oversized flash
cards is budding documentarian Maddie
Gold. The first-grader with the expressive
brown eyes asks her slightly older class-
mates questions about a very serious topic:
In her first foray into the filmmaking
world, pixie-sized Maddie, 6, is tackling
a big topic. According to the American
Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry, close to half of all children will
experience school bullying while they are
at primary or secondary school. Equipped
with an iPad supplied by her school's
media room and her mother Gayle Gold's
professional media experience, Maddie
asked 30 selected students questions like:
"Have you been bullied?" "Why do kids
First-grader Maddie Gold tackles bullying in a video.
bully?" and "What would you do if you
The answers may seem surprising.
Some of Maddie's sources replied that
a bully is someone who "really needs a
friend" or "someone who has problems so
they want to make you sad, too." Overall,
children replied that bullying makes them
feel "sad." When asked what they can do
if they or their friends are bullied, most
replied "tell them to stop:' and if it contin-
ues, "walk away and find an adult"
Maddie discovered that "making a
movie is taking a lot longer than I thought
it would:' She created the questions her-
self, asked teachers in other classes to
nominate interviewees and learned some
on-camera skills. Maddie and Gayle hope
to edit the film over February break. When
the movie is complete, it will be used as
an educational tool within the school and
may even be linked to the school's website.
Maddie got the go-ahead to make this
film from Burton Principal Maribeth
Knebel. According to Knebel, educators
and administrators at the school strive
to create a culture of inclusiveness across
grades and classes. Older kids are paired
with younger students to be reading men-
tors. Children with learning or physical
disabilities are mainstreamed as much
as possible in the classroom and are
befriended by other children on regular
"lunch dates" in the cafeteria.
Knebel said much has changed in her 30
years as an educator as far as "demystify-
ing" children with special needs.
"Acceptance and making friends with all
different kinds of children is a part of daily
life here in our school:' she added.
Still, the everyday teasing between older
and younger children can be unavoidable
in the elementary school years.
"When I see big kids making fun of
younger kids in school, it makes me sad:'
"Maddie has always had a strong aware-
ness of how people treat one another; said
Gayle Gold. "She is truly wise beyond her
Gayle herself worked on the beginning
phases of creating the 2013 feature docu-
mentary The Bully Chronicles to shed light
on how serious the problem can get among
high school-aged children. One way to stop
the catastrophic consequences of bulling in
the teen years is to educate kids when they
are still in elementary school.
Gayle and her husband, Lorne Gold, have
tried to set examples for Maddie of kind-
ness and thinking of others from their work
in the Jewish community. The two have
held various volunteer leadership positions
for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
Detroit and are both recipients of the orga-
nization's young leadership awards.
At the end of each interview, Maddie
asks each child to take a pledge not to be
"Hopefully, this film will teach bul-
lied children that the problem lies with
the bully, not with you:' Gayle said. "As a
culture, we need to turn bullying on its
To nominate someone as a Mentsh of the
Month, contact Stacy Gittleman at stacy.
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