Conference

I said that I’d write a post tomorrow… well, I got kidnapped, so I couldn’t, and I’m supposed to be writing an essay but I can’t focus, so I figured writing about something enjoyable may help me get inspired.

On Friday, I attended an anti-bullying conference – “Build and Empower”.

I was a student mentor.

We had middle school kids come from the surrounding towns to listen to us educate and, well, empower. As mentors, we were encouraged to be overly friendly. We also had to find ways to get our kids talking or sharing experiences. I connected with two girls in grade 6 or 7 – Morgan and Carly. Morgan had two moms! That was cool! We got to talking after sharing photos of our pets. Also, we only had one boy in our group, so getting him to come out of his shell was difficult at times, but once we started doing group work, it went well.

(I’m allowed to share these, they’re already on the internet!)

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This was Cliff. He was a speaker at the “presentation” part of the conference. You can kinda see me, I’m behind the tech stuff. I got to be the mic and sound/video person. Cliff was really funny and I enjoyed talking to him about random things. His dancing and singing was definitely fun and got everyone involved. I never even knew this auditorioum place existed…

Next came a woman named Theresa. She is an elder and she came up to me and introduced herself and asked if I’d tie her apron. Of course, I gladly did, and she thanked me. I don’t really remember exactly what they were called, but they were all handmade and they came from her area on the island.

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Theresa sang a song about the wolf. A lot of people will cringe at that, but in her area, wolves are good, not mischievous and bad, but instead, they are messengers. I really enjoy Native culture and I enjoyed having her there. We have a big Native influence because the land we’re currently on is all Sto:lo, so the earth is very important.

Next came a woman named River (I immediately thought River Song because a kid had a Doctor Who shirt!). I don’t entirely know what to call what she did… it was theatre, but explaining feelings. I really liked how they incorporated the kids into it. They had to tell 3 stories, choose the one they could most relate to, then break down the emotions and act it out.

For example, there are feelings of anger. So anger becomes a real person and starts chasing you around agging you on to do something based on an emotion. It was truly incredible to watch.

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Oh, hey, look. I’m unfortunately in the background.

Afterwards, we made a break. We got pizza and drinks! I drank water and had probably 5 bites of pizza before I had to say enough. It really wasn’t great at all. For some reason, all the pizza here really sucks. But they did what they could, so who can be mad or upset? It was wonderful that we got lunch at all!

I had a girl and her mom come up to me. Her name was Parys. She helped start K.A.R.E. I got pamphlets and such.  She, herself, was bullied, but so was her brother. Her brother was beaten and the doctors said he’d never walk or talk again (sounds familiar), but he played in the summer games. Go figure.

Eventually, we split into our mentor group (GO PURPLE!) and we did some activities like “Connect” which is a string game to show that everyone is connected in some way or another. We also brainstormed ideas on chart paper.

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This was our group, mentors and all!

Looks like I’m wearing a purple tie.

Eventually, we drew and coloured on these boxes… some of us wrote poems, like I did. Afterwards (there were 2 groups in each room), we combined the boxes from each group to create something cool.

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We created the infinity sign. It represents the infinity of love.

We shortly thereafter ended our day.

I’m really not sure how these kids will take what they learned on Friday. All we can do is guide and teach, we can’t force anyone to do anything. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that people in my group hadn’t experienced or witnessed much bullying, but it’s still out there, even after you get out of school. I just hope they take what we talked about and use it for good. Maybe they’ll make a difference in somebody’s life.

Never underestimate the power of a hello, or even a smile.

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