Help Teachers Take a Creative Stand Against Bullying

Photo shot by Pooja Wadhawan, Associate Creative Director, and edited by Royce Leonard, Sr. Art Director, Brand Strategy & Design

Photo shot by Pooja Wadhawan, Associate Creative Director, and edited by Royce Leonard, Sr. Art Director, Brand Strategy & Design

They say that art imitates life. But for the 13 million children in the United States alone who suffer student bullying each day, The BULLY Project Mural aims to change their lives through art, and raise awareness about this ongoing crisis of peer violence and intimidation.

Launched this past October to a standing ovation at Adobe MAX, the online mural is one of several initiatives led by The BULLY Project, Lee Hirsch’s social awareness movement inspired by BULLY, his 2012 documentary film that highlighted the epidemic of childhood bullying to rave reviews. Initially composed of sixteen pieces, the first iteration of the BULLY online mural was designed by professional artists who hailed from Brooklyn to Cairo, including some who were bullying survivors themselves. The work of those professionals was as emotionally moving as it was technically powerful, and now the mural is heading to schools across America, where its subject matter really lives.

“Every moment I spend visiting and exploring the mural brings healing and inspiration and makes the work we do come alive,” Lee Hirsch says. “The next big step is to bring this transformative experience to educators and students around the world. Together with Adobe we have set our sights on no less than 1,000,000 student submissions.”

In partnership with The Bully Project, Adobe has just released a lesson plan and accompanying technical tutorials entitled: “Take a Creative Stand Against Bullying.” The materials will help teachers educate and engage students about the bullying problem, while inspiring students to create artwork to add to The Bully Project Mural. The plan and tutorials walk educators through a suggested progression –

from helping students engage in dialogue about bullying, to technical instruction on using Adobe software, such as Illustrator Draw and Photoshop CC to actually create their pieces. The program features:

  • Access to order an Educator’s Toolkit designed to accompany the movie BULLY and create a safe framework for school participants. The lesson plans and bullying prevention resources are aligned to the common core and rooted in social and emotional learning practices. The toolkit is the perfect starting point for participation in the Mural Project.
  • Viewing of the film Bully to jumpstart the conversation, followed by a group review of the Bully Project Mural to discuss translating the emotions of the film into a creative response.
  • Directions on the technical use of Adobe tools to create artwork spanning a variety of media. With the provided Technical Tutorial Handouts, students can use different apps for different types of creative expression. It could be a virtual sketch with Adobe Illustrator Draw, a short film with Adobe Premiere Clip, or even an infographic with Adobe InDesign.
  • Teacher guidance materials for supporting additional conversations, such as students’ critical feedback of each others’ artistic work, not only to assess the artistry, but to continue the dialogue of the emotion behind the work.

All of the art is then uploaded to The Bully Project Mural where it will join thousands of other students’ work. The “Take a Creative Stand Against Bullying” educational program will help both teachers and students to build a digital mural and a community of empathy across classrooms. And while the mural is “virtual,” awareness of the project is growing in the “real” world, with exhibitions in traditional gallery settings such as a recent private viewing hosted by Adobe, where printed versions of the digital artwork were on display.

The Bully Project Mural is just one piece of The Bully Project, which is itself a mosaic of consciousness-raising initiatives that aim to build a stronger community of citizens determined to confront the problem of bullying. With this new educational program, teachers can now take active steps to ensure that a community of empathy and anti-bullying activism takes root in their own classrooms—and hopefully stop the problem at its source.