Jenna Lancaster

Jenna Lancaster

Spectrum students spin social media trend

Random acts of kindness from Saanich school counteract online neknominations

Armed with video cameras, big hearts and a want to make a difference, students from Spectrum community school are conducting random acts of kindness throughout Greater Victoria.

The surge of good deeds comes as the school aims to put a positive spin on a dangerous social media trend, known as neknominations.

“Neknominations work by you videotaping yourself doing something stupid and then you nominate other friends to do something equal or worse, basically,” said Spectrum teacher Nick Van Iersel. “So we call ours SpecNominations, and the challenge is really straight-forward: do something that will leave the world in a better place than you found it.

“It came out of a concern of ours around neknominations; we knew some of our kids had been nominated.”

Van Iersel launched SpecNominations on Feb. 17 with a video of him paying for a coffee and muffin for five people at McDonald’s.

“That is the nicest thing ever,” the McDonald’s employee tells him of his $8.35 purchase.

Within two days of Van Iersel posting his video to YouTube students began spreading positive change and posting their own exploits to social media.

“One thing that really spoke to us was helping the less fortunate,” said Grade 12 student Pius Cuizon. He and friends Sage Barlow-Young and Jenna Lancaster were nominated by Van Iersel, and the first students to accept the nomination.

The trio, along with Cuizon’s sister Eurica who filmed their good deeds, purchased 10 hamburgers and a large pizza, and offered hot food to Victoria’s homeless on a cold February night.

“At first I thought it wasn’t a big deal, but I realized at the end of it that a little really does go a long way,” Cuizon said. “As long as you give the best you possibly can and have a heart and want to help others, you can make a difference.”

At the end of their video, the Grade 12 students nominated their entire grad class to take on the challenge.

Less than two hours after seeing the video, Kat Gosselin and Rahim Khan had approached half a dozen homeless people and bought them more than $150 worth of food, sweaters, shoes, socks and a sleeping bag.

“We just asked them what they wanted; if there was anything that they needed,” Gosselin said. “They seemed stunned at first. They were so thankful and so happy. It made my day. I was getting jitters buying all the stuff because I was excited to see their reactions.”

Victoria police Const. Paul Brookes is involved with the Greater Victoria school district’s Youth for Change and Inclusion group. It was during a meeting of that group when Van Iersel first pitched the idea of SpecNominations.

“Everybody understands the philosophy of giving, but so often they don’t go out and do it. And this kind of movement is giving that extra push to move kids out of their comfort zones and discover how gratifying, how wonderful these kinds of things are,” Brookes said. “It sets them up for life to be those change agents in our community.”

Cuizon said he came away from the experience with an even greater understanding of generosity. It doesn’t matter how much or how little you have to give, everyone has the potential to make a positive difference in their community, he said.

“I find that people over-think giving a lot. You don’t need to be rich to help. We’re all students right now. Just because you don’t have a lot of money shouldn’t stop you from helping other people,” he said. “It feels great to trigger something onto someone to do something different, do something good.”

Since launching two weeks ago, SpecNominations have extended to individuals outside of the school’s hallways. Students from other Saanich schools are taking up the challenge, as are Saanich police officers. Gosselin even nominated a friend in the United States.

“It just seemed like it was a such a great idea to put a positive spin on neknominations. I have my opinions on how those are unnecessary – it’s really kind of a stupid act. But I thought this would be a great way to make someone’s day,” Gosselin said.

To see the random acts of kindness videos from Spectrum students and teachers, search SpecNominations on YouTube.com.

editor@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

The Victoria Police Department is seeking information on an assault that occurred in downtown Victoria on May 10. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police investigating downtown Victoria assault on youth

Witness also attacked after trying to intervene

Reigning women’s World Champion Kaetlyn Osmond, who also took bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, will debut two brand new programs for the 2021 Stars On Ice tour, in Victoria May 15. (File photo)
Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko hit the ice when Stars returns to Victoria

The star-studded lineup is makes a return after pandemic hiatus

Ryan Cootes, Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Bill Collins and Mike Williamson of Cascadia Seaweed Corporation are here seen holding up seaweed grown in Barkley Sound in July 2020. The Sidney-based company has organized the inaugural Seaweed Days Festival running May 17 to May 23. (Cascadia Seaweed Corporation/Submitted)
Global expert touts seaweed to open inaugural Sidney festival

Vincent Doumeizel also points to barrier facing the emerging industry

Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump in the newly redesigned Organ Donor trail at Mount Work mountain biking park. The Capital Regional District approved its regional parks mountain biking guidelines and a list of short-term actions at the CRD board’s May 12 meeting. (Black Press Media File Photo)
CRD approves mountain biking guidelines that drove spoke between advocates, environmentalists

Guidelines aim to find new biking opportunites in region, while protecting park ecology

Howard English Hatchery volunteer Joscilyn Jupp poured one of many buckets of salmon fry into Douglas Creek on May 11, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
35,000 salmon fry released in Saanich park during closed event

Chum from Goldstream Hatchery trucked in to restore Douglas Creek salmon spawning

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

The Nanaimo Timbermen and Victoria Shamrocks compete in Western Lacrosse Association action in Nanaimo during the 2019 season. (News Bulletin file photo)
WLA cancels another senior A lacrosse season due to COVID-19

Western Lacrosse Association, Major Series Lacrosse announce cancellation of Mann Cup

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred last Friday

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

Most Read