Emma Zablowski

Emma Zablowski

Victoria video contest catches ‘bullies’ on camera

Kids encouraged to show effects of bullying with short films

It’s easy to forget what it feels like to be a kid: the awkwardness, fear, joy and excitement that ebb and flow like the tide on an average school day.

And while initiatives like Pink Shirt Day have helped teachers and students make great strides in creating a healthier environment at school, a local film festival is going one step further to highlight what it means and how it feels to take on bad behaviour.

The third annual Youth United Anti-Bullying Film Festival is a friendly competition between local kids and teens to film 30-second public service announcements on the negative impact of bullying.

The films will be screened and judged Feb. 26 at l’Ecole Victor-Brodeur, 637 Head St., with the winner getting commercial airtime on CTV Vancouver Island for the next year in support of Boys and Girls Club Services of Greater Victoria.

“Just to see this young population come together and engage in these issues is powerful for me and the youth who are participating,” said Emma Zablowski, youth manager at Fairfield Gonzales Community Association, whose Grade 5/6 after-school class finished filming and editing their video this week.

“There’s a lot of excitement about taking a camera, brainstorming a story idea and going through the actual creation process,” she said.

Film fest organizer Ryan Lance, also the City of Victoria’s child and youth programmer, said he’s hoping for 25 submissions this year in the Grade 8 and under and Grades 9 to 12 categories. There are also plans to expand the film fest to include youth at community associations and rec centres in other municipalities next year, he said.

“It gives youth an opportunity to speak out and share their experiences and feelings, and then to connect with each other.”

The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, Canadian Red Cross, Victoria Film Festival and other agencies will also be engaging kids and parents at next week’s event.

“The great thing about this film fest is you get all sorts of levels of skill, but at the end of the day, it’s about participation. It doesn’t matter if you film it on your iPhone, you’ll still get to see it up on the screen,” Lance said.

The B.C. government officially recognized Pink Shirt Day in 2008, and the anti-bullying movement has since become a national and international movement.

Purchasing a pink shirt at London Drugs, or online at pinkshirtday.ca, will benefit the Boys and Girls Club Services of Greater Victoria, said Kate Mansell, the club’s development director.

“Pink Shirt Day is a good thing to raise awareness of bullying and the impact it has, but it’s something you have to work at every day,” she said. “It’s not something that’s just magically going to be solved one day a year. It’s embedded into our programming.”

Visit bgcvic.org for a full list of Pink Shirt Day events and for film fest information.


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