Cowichan students add One Voice to anti-bullying campaign

Clockwise from front are Madison Gray, Joseph Pinenta, Cameron Chow, Rachel Farrell, Gloria Gensey, and Tiernan Schneider (centre). - Krista Siefken
Clockwise from front are Madison Gray, Joseph Pinenta, Cameron Chow, Rachel Farrell, Gloria Gensey, and Tiernan Schneider (centre).
— image credit: Krista Siefken

Cowichan students are adding their voices to the growing chorus of anti-bullying messages.

One Voice, to be precise.

That's the title of the song and music video that features a group of Cowichan Secondary School students — and has gained some 5,000 views on YouTube and Facebook.

"I was amazed with how it turned it — it's really powerful," says Grade 11 student Tiernan Schneider.

It's also really professional.

The music and lyrics were written by Cowichan educator Laura Lee, and students turned the song into a slick-looking music video during a week of volunteered-time at spring break.

Lee says she wrote the song a couple of years ago but was waiting on some financial assistance to produce it.

Ultimately, though, she decided to finance the project — dubbed 1ness — herself.

"But because of partnerships in the community it ended up not being that expensive," she adds.

Carlson's School of Dance, for example, donated rehearsal space and dancers, as did Adage Studio, and time at the Cowichan Theatre was partially donated, too.

The end result is a catchy tune and a cool video that feature Cowichan teens and Cowichan places.

"If people in our community can watch it and recognize people, I just think that makes it even more powerful, because it shows bullying happens everywhere," says Schneider.

She practices dance daily, and was thrilled to utilize those skills for the 1ness project.

"It's important to use what I've been trained for in a positive way," she says.

The professionally choreographed One Voice video boasts plenty of other talented dancers, too.

"It was fun to explore dance and show people how it's fun, but it's more — it's fundamental," said Grade 12 student Cameron Chow.

"It's influential," Schneider agreed.

"I really believe in the power of young people to effect change in our world, and I also believe in the power of the arts," says Lee. "The arts can go to the heart of the matter, rather than the intellect. When we reach into the heart rather than the head we can really make connections that are long-lasting and meaningful."

Which is why she's also spearheaded Cow High's Embrace project, which had worked with Grade 10 leaders to tackle bullying through the arts and peer-to-peer work.

In fact, Embrace students used the 1ness One Voice video as part of their project.

"It was used as one of the parts of our main presentation that we made to the Grade 10s, along with a lot of other videos, and I thought it was really cool that a bunch of people from our community did this," said Grade 10 student Madison Gray. "It got (students') attention more because they knew people in it."

And that, of course, is the main aim of both tolerance projects.

"I think it's making a difference," said Embrace student Rachel Farrell. "People actually listened, and hearing people talking about the issue in depth, and share stories, was really powerful."

"Some of the students were actually brave enough to speak up during the discussions," Gray added.

"It's an ongoing process and things like this are just one step in raising awareness," Lee said.

But it's a big step.

"These kids have been amazing — they're so engaged," she said.

"These are young people who have a vision of who they are in the world, and the kind of world they hope to create, and they're not just saying it in words. They're putting the time and the energy into it, and it's just really encouraging."











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