RVS seeking input on community engagement model
The Boys and Girls Club (BGC) of Airdrie is preparing for the annual Pink Shirt Day on Feb. 27, which attempts to raise awareness for the impacts of bullying.
Mitchell George, a program leader at the BGC, created a powerful video for Pink Shirt Day on the impact of bullying in schools.
The video, which included a number of volunteers from Crossfield, portrayed the school grounds as a warzone with supporting statistics from researchers.
For instance: “Bullying occurs once every 25 minutes in the classroom … once every seven minutes on the playground,” and “10 per cent of all children attending school are afraid throughout the day.”
The video also states that bullying can increase the risk of suicidal ideas in youth and finishes with: “The playground shouldn’t be a war zone.”
The locally-made video also featured local musician Paul Orton, who recorded a song specifically for the production.
George said that he and Tiffany Glowaski, a fund developer at the BGC, tried to find the most empowering statistics they could for the video.
“(We wanted to use) the (statistics) that really met and fit with today’s bullying, the (statistics) that would really grab the attention of some people and make them understand the depths of bullying a little more,” said George, who also teaches guitar at the Boys and Girls Club, and runs the BG Café on Friday nights at the club, which is an open-microphone night for youth to demonstrate their passion for music.
George himself came to the BGC after being bullied in his younger days and says that it had a huge impact on his life.
“Bullying shaped who I am today and it definitely allows me to see the perspective of some kids now and understand how people feel when they get bullied as well,” added George, saying he compared it to a war zone in the video because that’s how it feels.
“A lot of kids get put in the position of bullying, it’s not easy for them and it’s a very uncomfortable place for them to be and it’s just how a war would be. It’s uncomfortable, it’s hard and it’s a fight every day. Some kids don’t know if they’re going to make it out alive, some kids they just don’t know when their next battle is going to be so we thought a warzone is definitely something that demonstrates bullying very well.”
Glowaski said it doesn’t only impact kids, bullying takes place in the adult world as well.
“We’re faced every day with a variety of situations that could include bullying in a number of ways,” said Glowaski, who went on to say the awareness that Pink Shirt Day brings about goes a long way to solving the problem.
“Once people are aware and educated around a subject it becomes a lot easier to identify the problem and then come to a better solution with it.”
The club will be selling paper pink shirts that people can purchase for $2 to show their support, similar to the Miracle balloons at Dairy Queen, for people who have not purchased a Pink Shirt.
Call 403-948-3331 to contact the centre.
This spring, Rocky View Schools trustees will be attending school meetings and talking to community and business members seeking feedback on their public engagement model.
RVS is also encouraging people to take part in an online survey to share their insights on three questions: Will RVS’ Community Engagement Model help increase transparency and citizen engagement? Can you suggest a better model or refinements to the current model? and What areas in our system would benefit from greater community participation?
Following the initial round of feedback, RVS will host a public meeting, May 9 at the RVS Education Centre from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., to share its findings and ask for help to solidify a draft “Generative Governance” policy. The policy will guide the 2013-2017 RVS board.
“As a result of this process, community members will understand better the challenges we face,” said Trustee Bev LaPeare.
“I see this as a tool that we can use to let people know where we are going … so when we do come to the difficult situations, the community will understand where we are coming from.”
According to an RVS report, the school board has had a Community Engagement Model in place since 2008. The model defines five levels of community consultation, ranging from informing the public to placing final decision making in the hands of the public.
Over the past several years, RVS has engaged in a number of projects involving community consultation such as the 2008-2011 Three Year Plan, for which 200 stakeholders provided feedback.
The RVS report also stated the Province has embraced the need for more community involvement over the past several years through its publication Inspiring Education (April, 2010), Inspiring Action in Education (June, 2010) and the Education Act (November, 2012).
“We know with the new Education Act coming into affect … our role as a board will be changing substantially,” said LaPeare.
Superintendent Greg Bass said the Community Engagement Model gives the opportunity to help inform parents on how RVS is educating students.
However, he said it is important the community understands the final decision is the boards.
“Community engagement is a means to an end,” he said.
“The public needs to understand where the accountability will be is where the decision is made.”
For more information on the engagement model, or to take the online survey, visit www.rockyview.ab.ca