Bruce Trail Public School female students received an important message about self-esteem and diversity at a recent presentation – embrace who you are because that makes you special.
The 411 Initiative For Change made an empowering and entertaining presentation in late March to 100 of the Milton school’s Grade 6-8 female students, encouraging them to love how they look and understanding they each have something unique that makes them special. The Toronto-based group urges young people to participate in social issues to create a world in which global citizens – specifically young people – have a say and a role to play in their community.
Through song, acting, dance and the telling of personal stories, group members Anita Majumdar (pictured left), Masia One and Ivy Prosper spoke to the gymnasium of riveted students, each talking about how they struggled fitting in and gaining acceptance. For example, Majumdar tells the story of a young girl who struggles to find her identity in a Canadian school during the week, while taking part in South Asian traditions on the weekend.
Students took the words to heart, understanding they should accept themselves. “I learned it’s okay to be the way you are,” says Grade 6 student Brooke. “You’re perfect the way you are.”
Teacher Tanya Taylor wanted the group of entertainers to come to Bruce Trail because the school is always looking for ways to promote a safe learning environment.
“The core values of the 411 presentation that caught my attention were promoting girls’ self-esteem, body image, integration and bullying prevention,” says Taylor. “This presentation gave us more than we ever expected. Strong, culturally diverse, talented female role models as hosts, engaging presentation format with media clips, question and answer periods, free DVD's, and hip hop and Hindi dance performances that tied into many of the Grade 6, 7, 8 curriculum expectations.”
There were many curriculum areas touched on by the presentation. They included, for example, addressing Healthy Living/Personal Safety and Injury Prevention. For Grade 6 students, that meant promoting positive interaction; for Grade 7 students, that meant understanding how the negative use of computers and other technologies can be used to bully a person; and for Grade 8 students, that meant analyzing the impact of gender-based or racially-based violence and describing the role of support associations in preventing violence.
“I hope the students walked away with several important messages – don't be afraid to be who you are, do what you love, don't worry what others think, and believe you have the power to make your dreams come true with hard work and initiative,” Taylor says.