Imagine a world in the future, where bullying ceases to exist. Where those who commit a bullying crime are brought before a panel for two purposes: first to understand their own past and why they acted out towards another, and second, to make things right and apologize for the hurt they have caused. Imagine a society that cares not only about the bullied, but about the bullies, wanting both sides to heal from the hurt. Imagine a world where everyone plays a role, and helps support one another, so we can recognize the unique and wonderful qualities that exist in each of us. Imagine.
Last night, for two hours, I had the pleasure of living in this world. Like a great movie that transforms you from realty, The Bullying Games fast forwarded the audience into the future, into a world where bullying is dealt with effectively. Built on the premise of The Hunger Games, competing teams spoke of their crimes and competed with one another for the ultimate prize. Compassion, teamwork, understanding and forgiveness moved teams forward as they resolved realistic bullying issues. For two amazing hours, the cast of The Bullying Games entertained and educated their audience, challenging each person to act as a positive force. While last night was the last scheduled performance of this amazing youth production, their was a buzz in the air as the show concluded. The standing ovation marked the closing, yet the voices of the crowd repeatedly suggested that this must be a beginning.
Personally, I feel The Bullying Games is the most positive, effective, creative and inspiring approach to bullying that I have seen. There is a synergy that exists when people come together focused on making a positive difference. This production is the result of an inspiring story, where students and adults work together to create magic.
The story began with an amazing teacher, Dean Whitson, who wanted to engage his leadership students in a real project where they could develop leadership skills while making a positive difference. The students and teacher participated in We Day in Vancouver, and left feeling inspired to do something in their community. They decided to tackle the issue of bullying and began to brainstorm ideas. Together, they decided that pink T-shirts were not enough, and they decided that they wanted to focus on the positive rather than the ‘Anti’ in Anti-Bullying Day. With passion and excitement, they crafted up an idea where they could engage an entire school district to work together to create a production of music, martial arts, dance and song with a motivating, thought-provoking and informative look at bullying from both sides.
To begin, the class created Love is Louder Than Bullying shirts. The leadership students then travelled to schools in Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, and Coquitlam, mentoring other leadership students who took the lead selling the shirts at their schools. Thousands of shirts were sold. With the profit made from shirt sales, the students hired a production company, ABC Let’s Act, to write and direct a play on bullying. However, in the spirit of inclusion and realism, the students took further steps, to interview middle and high school students around the district to share what bullying really looks like. They then shared their research with the Director, Mandy Tulloch, who then created a meaningful script. Mandy opened auditions to all SD43 students and selected a phenomenal cast ranging from age 11-18 from a variety of schools, showcasing the amazing talent of youth in the community. The final product was an absolutely brilliant production, entertaining and educating the audience through music, song and martial arts.
I love The Bullying Games for so many reasons. Here are a few:
- It demonstrates the magic that can happen when we work together
- It started as idea, and gained momentum involving schools from all levels
- It celebrates the talent of youth in the community
- It recognizes that bullies and the bullied are both the victims, and sends powerful messages to both sides
- It began as an idea, motivated not by political campaigns but by the genuine passion of youth wanting to make a difference
- It is research based, dealing with real issues that kids face
- It educates and inspires change, through entertainment
- It teaches leadership skills to youth in a fun, engaging format
- It is preventative rather than reactive
- It is age appropriate for students K-12
While last night was the final performance, I cannot help but wonder if the momentum will continue. The Bullying Games is simply too good to be over. It is something that every child in BC should see. Hopefully, the stars will continue to align, and that will become a possibility.
Imagine a world in the future where bullying ceases to exist. Imagine a society that cares not only about the bullied, but about the bullies, wanting both sides to heal from the hurt. Imagine a world where everyone plays a role, and helps support one another, so we can recognize the unique and wonderful qualities that exist in each of us. Imagine. How do we get there? The Bullying Games is a fantastic start.
I offer my sincere congratulations to the students, staff and community members who worked together to create such a magical and inspiring project. For more information on The Bullying Games, contact Dean Whitson (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Terry Fox Secondary.