Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. This is a familiar saying, and one that is wholly untrue.
A musical performance and presentation concluded Anti-Bullying Week at St. Andrew’s College, Friday. Glenn Marais, a Newmarket native, is an artist whose words and music speak out against injustice and inequality. His original songs, videos, and powerful words offer hope and strength. “We come from different places,” said Mr. Marais to the boys, “but we are all connected.” And this is especially true at SAC where the student body represents 31 countries worldwide.
Throughout the interactive assembly, Mr. Marais shared stories of people who had been bullied and how they succeeded – inspirational people, humanitarians, and tremendous athletes. He spoke about Malala Yousafzai, Walt Disney, Michael Jordan, Dr. Seuss, Jessie Owens, Michael Phelps, and Albert Einstein. All of these people failed multiple times before they succeeded or were told they weren’t good enough. He shared his favourite Einstein quote as a way for the students to embrace their own uniqueness: “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”
Mr. Marias told the boys, “If you start small and dream big, anything is possible.” He encouraged them to think about their aspirations and to keep reaching to achieve their goals – never give up, even in the face of adversity.
He went on to speak about the power of words and how they stick with you, how sometimes we use words without thinking, trying to be funny, without realizing the damage we can do. In Canada, 1 in 7 children are bullied and 160,000 students miss school every day because of bullying. “The truest power of all is kindness and grace and love,” he said. “Don’t waste your lives trying to fit into something you aren’t comfortable with.”
Marais’s Say My Name anti-bullying video had the group reflecting on bullying at home and in school. The boys joined him in singing the original song, which he filmed last year in a Newmarket high school.
Bullying is a crime against humanity, it is illegal, and yet it happens every day. So how do we stop it? He told the boys to tell their parents or a teacher; it’s not telling on someone, he reminded them, it communicating the situation and keeping your school safe.
Mr. Marais left the students with the challenge to “raise your voice and speak out;” to stand together against those who are cruel.
Story by Nicolette Fleming