TIM SMITH /BRANDON SUN
Kathy Grayson, centre, leads students from 17 schools in a Zumba dance workshop during the Youth Revolution Forum at École New Era School on Wednesday.
Youth Revolution members are gearing up for another year packed full of projects and events.
Mary Lacerte and other members of Neelin High School’s intermediate dance group perform on stage during the Youth Revolution Forum on Wednesday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Nearly 300 students from 17 schools across Brandon School Division attended Wednesday’s Y-R forum at École New Era School to discuss community issues, brainstorm future projects and participate in a variety of workshops.
Wednesday’s forum was also about getting students excited about being Y-R members.
"We’re all about accepting people for who they are," said Léa Johnson, a Grade 12 Neelin High School student and Y-R member. "Anybody can be a part of the Youth Revolution group in their schools so this way we’re not excluding any ethnicity or age and we get input from everybody."
Y-R is a Brandon Community Drug and Alcohol Education Coalition initiative that promotes healthy lifestyle choices and works to reduce risky behaviour including bullying, violence, tobacco and the use of drugs and alcohol among youth.
The inclusiveness of the group has also given way to several anti-bullying projects that even caught the eye of education minister Nancy Allan. Allan praised Y-R members for their anti-bullying efforts during her visit to Brandon last week.
"It’s very rewarding and it’s so nice to know that our work is not going unnoticed and all the efforts the students are putting into and the time they’re volunteering is being recognized," Jardine said. "Because all they need is a pat on the back and they’re good to go."
From a student’s perspective, Johnson said she was glad to see Bill 18, the Manitoba government’s anti-bullying legislation, pass its final reading last month and be put into law last week.
"It’s great to see that everyone is taking initiative and this is a problem and now they’ve addressed it and they’re trying to help everybody who have been victims," she said.
Under Bill 18, the Safe and Inclusive Schools Act, schools in Manitoba are required to report and act on cyberbullying incidents even if they take place outside of school or after hours. Schools are also required to expand policies on the appropriate use of the Internet in schools to include social media, text messaging and instant messaging as well as accommodate students who want to establish and lead activities and organizations, such as gay-straight alliances and that address all forms of bullying.
One student said that although bullying is still a problem at her school, Bill 18 should help make students more aware that behaviour is no longer being tolerated.
"We do see a lot of bullying, but honestly since they’ve been doing this it’s been less and less," said Julia Brickford, a Grade 9 Crocus Plains Regional Secondary School student and Y-R member. "It’s still a problem but it’s becoming a lesser problem."
Since Jardine started Y-R in October 2010, students ranging from Grade 5 and up have helped implement more than 540 projects and the group’s movement is now spreading throughout the community. Although they have had no problem recruiting students, this year they’re hoping to include more parents when it comes to planning and organizing events, Jardine said.
"I wanted it to grow this big but I didn’t think there was going to be this many students."
When Johnson joined Y-R one year ago, she said she was looking for more volunteer opportunities but didn’t realize the effect she would have on the community.
"It’s nice to be a part of these bigger projects that really have an impact not just on youth but the entire population."
These are some of the events Brandon School Division Youth Revolution members will be attending this month.
• Oct. 26 — Power of Being a Girl from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at Brandon University’s Healthy Living Centre
• Oct. 28 — P.A.R.T.Y (Prevent Drug and Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth) program from 9:30 a.m.-2:20 p.m. at the Brandon Regional Health Authority
• Oct. 29 — P.A.R.T.Y program from 9:30 a.m.- 2:20 p.m. at the Brandon Regional Health Authority
• Oct. 30 We Day in Winnipeg at MTS Centre
For information about Y-R and for a full list of sponsors and events, visit daeducation.wordpress.com.
» Brandon Community Drugand Alcohol Education Coalition
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 17, 2013