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Actor plans classes to teach about bullying

Since moving to Mooresville from Los Angeles, Karen Abercrombie has continued her acting career, while teaching the craft to a younger generation.

She describes herself as a conduit, helping to provide opportunities for kids.

"I believe in paying forward," she said.

Abercrombie's energy is contagious as she describes recent projects. Her newest film, "Trinity Goodheart," in which she has a leading role, opens Friday in Charlotte. "It's something the whole family can see," she said.

Next out is a CD of contemporary Christian music. Abercrombie has written music for years and packed it away. When she revisited her work, she recorded some songs, sent them to a music company and received a recording contract.

After taking a break from teaching summer camps, Abercrombie is planning fall classes. She will add a new dimension to Angels Take Flight, her company that offers children's theater classes. Preventing bullying will be a major focus.

Abercrombie said bullying is escalating. "We must be more aggressive in recognizing signs of bullying and dealing with the problem," she said.

Several children in her classes report they have been bullied. Cyberbullying has added a new level, because bullies can use interactive technologies to hide from their victims.

"Everybody has got to stand up for the child," Abercrombie said. Sometimes schools don't deal effectively with bullying, she said.

Abercrombie is dealing with the problem and designing an awareness program for area schools. She has drawn on her experience at New York University, where she was a member of the Creative Arts Team, an educational theater company that specializes in community outreach.

The format will be an assembly in which teams of eight middle and high school students, trained by Abercrombie, will perform skits. She and the students will lead question-and-answer sessions. In one portion, students from the audience will participate, playing the roles of bullies or victims.

Parents also need to hear the message. Many are not aware of bullying signs and sometimes learn too late their child is a victim or a bully, she said.

"It's time to get off our butts and do something, rather than wait until after the fact," Abercrombie said.

Workshops are planned for families. Abercrombie will ask parents to remember their childhoods and incidents of bullying. She will remind them that today's bullies have more sophisticated tools to assist in being hateful.

Abercrombie will visit groups to raise awareness about bullying. Contact her at www.atfchildrenstheatre.com, karen@atfchildrenstheatre.com or 704-658-9293.

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