A team of WWE wrestlers known as The New Day led an anti-bullying campaign at the American Community School of Abu Dhabi before their three-day show in the capital this weekend.
When Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods were introduced by middle school principal Mike Emorsky, the pupils roared.
The Be A Star initiative was founded by the Creative Coalition, a US non-profit group that campaigns on social issues, and WWE to empower children to encourage equality and respect.
"We are here with the Be A Star alliance,” said Woods. "That star is an acronym for ‘show tolerance and respect'.”
He opened the session by asking pupils if they had experienced someone being mean.
When many hands were raised, he said: "So everybody, every single person. We are asking that so you can see that you're not alone in this.”
Big E spoke next, and talked about different types of bullying, specifically attacks using the internet.
"Unfortunately, over 70 per cent of students admit to being cyber-bullied,” Big E said.
He asked Kingston if he also gets bullied. "All the time,” the wrestler said.
Kingston talked about WWE, explaining that E stands for entertainment. This is the difference, he said, between what the pupils see on stage or television, and in real life.
"We constantly express that we are entertainment. We do our best to not only tell kids that.” During the show, he said, "we have several different commercials talking about ‘don't try what we do at home' ”.
It is best, he said "to watch what we do, instead of try it”.
The wrestler told the children how happy he was to be back in Abu Dhabi.
"It feels great, it's awesome. It is my third time here now and it gets better every time.”
Big E said he was aware of the wrestlers' duties as role models for children.
"We have the responsibility being on television,” he said. "I think a lot of times you should look up to your parents or doctors and lawyers and the community. But sometimes people end up looking up to people on television, and I feel like we have the responsibility, especially because our product is geared towards children and we want to be upstanding role models.”
Woods said bullying had no cultural boundaries, and people could be mean regardless of the language they speak.
"So I feel like we can push that message wherever it is that we go and now, yes, we can tailor it to wherever we are or specific problems.”
Aya Masri, 11, who is Lebanese, said she was aware the wrestlers were there to promote tolerance and respect.
"I was excited to see them coming to our school.”
Faisal Salamah, 13, a Jordanian-Canadian, said he and his brothers are huge fans.
A Canadian teacher at the school, Chris Neurinski, 41, said: "The kids get excited, they look forward to seeing someone that for them is often unattainable. They are outside their realm any time they wind up seeing someone who is an entertainer.”
Bullying is something that the school addresses throughout the year, Mr Neurinski said. "Our first priority is the kids. How do we keep them safe? That's the most important thing for us.”
Source: The National