Giving “Zorgos Awards” to prevent bullying and ACEs


Zorgos_Cowan©Richard Luibrand
Local leaders were honored for using the power of “Zorgos.” Photo credit: Richard Luibrand

is an imaginary superpower that prevents bullying, coined by my co-author, Dr. Louise Hart, and myself for our book, The Bullying Antidote. Zorgos is the collection of learnable skills and/or qualities that calm, interrupt, or upshift bullying dynamics.

So much of today’s negative dynamics comes from people complaining about what’s wrong on social networks, news comments, etc. Trolls have a very degrading effect on society, and add to bullying dynamics by normalizing critical speech. We feel it is important for regular citizens to be upstanders, and highlight those who are modeling good practices.

For a few years after we started our blog, The Zorgos Reader, we just posted cute and heartwarming examples of Zorgos power. Then our mayor proclaimed October 15th “Zorgos Day,” in recognition of our city-wide read of the book to educate the community about ACEs and teach positive parenting skills.

On that day, we hosted the Zorgos Awards in Oakland and brought together a diverse group of local activists, artists, politicians, and professionals to highlight their work and celebrate the qualities and tools that prevent bullying. We started the evening reflecting on a child we love, and thinking about how they used their strengths. We wrote those strengths down, and we put them in a suitcase labeled Zorgos! 

We gave awards to:

  • LaQuisha Cowan, a parent who has struggled through the stresses of inner-city parenting, and who has helped hundreds of other parents create conversations around cultural parenting dynamics through Parent Cafés;
  • Rebecka Langum, a 4th grade teacher who creates calm and uplifting dynamics among children and adults;
  • Genice Jacobs, a local activist who started the fight against sexual slavery and human trafficking in Oakland (check out;
  • Lamar Hancock, who helped shape the African American Male Achievement program that has increased graduation rates among black boys, reduced violence, and empowered and valued disenfranchised youth in the Oakland School district;
  • Ron Lytle, a composer and lyricist for a local children’s theater company that provides children with fantasy, enrichment and joy;
  • Jeanne Gibbs, the creator of Tribes…who we think may have invented the term “social emotional learning!”

As we introduced each of the awardees, we spoke about the qualities of Zorgos they represented, and then gave them a beautiful gold cape… because they really do embody the super power of Zorgos! We also gave each of them a chance to talk about their work and learn about each others’ programs.

The suitcase was full by the end of the night! There are a thousand antidotes to bullying, and they all can and should be learned and celebrated!

Photo: Kristen Caven

Additionally, in our media coverage we highlighted the work of half a dozen more local leaders, and the prevention-power they bring to the community. You can read more about our nominees and ceremony here.

We ended the evening with a fun healthy touch exercise that was created to prevent child abuse… and can now be used as a tool to help children cope with climate disasters.

Anyone can give out Zorgos Awards!

Here’s how:

  1. Read The Bullying Antidote; understand the connection between ACEs, mental and emotional health, prevention theory and positive parenting.
  2. Nominate members of your community who are getting things right!
  3. Identify their strengths and highlight them, to focus on the positive and unify community efforts in applying Zorgos, the bullying antidote!
  4. Create a few fun activities for the event.
  5. Be sure to get a group photo in the end… celebrating the power of Zorgos!
Zorgos Power_©Richard Luibrand
The power of ZORGOS! Photo credit: Richard Luibrand


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