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Wednesday, 11 December 2013 15:30

Musicians bring anti-bullying message to Swift Current

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Two award-winning musicians used the gift of music to share their anti-bullying message with students during a visit to O.M. Irwin Middle School in Swift Current Dec. 4.

Country music artist Codie Prevost, who is a three-time Canadian Country Music Association nominee, and singer/songwriter Stephen Maguire, a four-time Saskatchewan Music Association nominee, has been touring across the province since Nov. 14 on the Canadian Red Cross Imagine No Bullying provincial schools tour.
Swift Current was their sixth stop on the current tour to seven communities. Maguire said they have received an “incredible” response and they reached more than 3,000 students with their message against bullying.
“We just want to inspire students, we want to inspire teachers, and say to them it’s not OK and there’s a better way,” he mentioned.
For Prevost is was important to be part of the tour and to talk about his own experiences with bullying when he was growing up in a small rural community in Saskatchewan.
“I was about 14 years-old, I experienced bullying,” he said. “It was after school; it was in the bathrooms, it was on the school bus; it was everywhere you wouldn’t regularly see things happen. I remember it being really, really tough to talk to anybody about it.”
Maguire grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during a period of political conflict where his school uniform made him a target of bullying.
“You grew up and you just can’t get away from the bullying, no matter where you are,” he said. “We all had school uniforms. So immediately because ofthe crest on my blazer I was a Catholic. So you found yourself in the city centre a target and you kind of think that’s so strange, having not opened your mouth, right all of a sudden — you’re a target.”
The two artists took turns during the show to perform songs and to spoke to students about their experiences with bullying. They concluded with their song Let love conquer all that was written for the Imagine No Bullying tour.
During the show they were joined on the stage by Jeanny Buan, who is the Injury Prevention and RespectED co-ordinator for the Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan. She spoke about her experiences with bullying when she was growing up in the Philippines. As a child, she was overweight and she had a dark skin complexion.
“My classmates were judging me on the way I looked,” she told students.
After their morning performance at O.M. Irwin School the two musicians met with a Grade 8 class and a couple of Grade 6 classes to talk on a more personal level with students about bullying. That evening they delivered a public performance of their show at the school with all proceeds going towards the Canadian Red Cross Image No Bullying campaign.
O.M. Irwin Principal Larry Kielo said it was a great opportunity for the school to be a part of this provincial tour.
“Part of our vision is being respectful and belonging together,” he mentioned. “We talk to the kids a lot about bullying and being proactive to the situation and having a presentation that connects with our vision was an important part for our kids to be able to see that we do what we say.”
The school has five guiding principles, of which two — “we are respectful” and “we belong” — are clearly connected to the idea of no bullying and harassment. Kielo is not sure there is more bullying than before.
“I think it’s not necessarily more of it, it’s just we’re more aware of it and we have a better understanding of how it impact kids,” he said.
The idea for this tour originated from last spring’s Imagine No Bullying concert in Saskatoon on the national Day of Pink, which was organized by Maguire and Studio XII Music & Dance Co. It resulted in many requests from schools, students and parents to have a similar event in their communities.
“This is just the beginning,” Buan said. “There is so much happening after this.”
There will again be a concert in April on the Day of Pink and another Imagine No Bullying provincial tour will take place next November. In the meantime Buan will be doing follow ups with the schools that have been visited on the current tour.
“People don’t know that we have been doing anti-bullying campaigns for so long,” she said. “It has been there for more than 10 years already and for us to partner with Stephen has been amazing because we are there to get that awareness out that the Red Cross is doing something about it.”

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