Today, Get REAL gave its last presentation of the 2012/2013 school year, and it was – fittingly – at Glen Ames, which was the first school to invite us to present to them (Western’s CYOA was our first ever presentation). Glen Ames is a favorite for us, because students make their own videos about bullying and we have the pleasure of watching them all. Man – talk about creativity beyond their years. Truly gives hope for future generations, that students are as compassionate, original, and creative as they are. And great choices in music for all of their videos – really terrific. We’d like to thank Luke Martin for inviting us back once again, and we look forward to coming back again next year. And getting a message like this is always nice!
That’s what’s up. Get REAL on trips. Get REAL represented by S-Trip! reps. Get REAL represented in all high schools and campuses that have an S-Trip! presence. And the creativity and brainpower of a phenomenal, successful company that is full of young people who truly want to make a difference and change the world.
Could not be happier. This is the start of something special. Special thanks to Neil Duffy (University & College Coordinator); Lauren Vandervoort (Marketing Manager); Jay Hamilton (Marketing Director); Alex Handa (President), and Mike Meehan (Videographer) for his filming! And of course Andrei, Bailey, Val and everyone else for their awesome cameos.
Time to celebrate.
Get REAL was proud to speak at Western’s Choose Your Own Adventure Camp for the second time, this Spring. Once again, the kids were great and the counsellors were awesome and welcoming! Zach Valliant & Chris Studer screened To My Grade 7 Self, and spoke to a very engaged audience. Taylor Plumb, who has volunteered as a counsellor for the past two years, noted the following great response from students:
“From my experiences volunteering the past two years, I found that his presentation was extremely beneficial for the conference and it generated a lot of questions from the students. One thing that the students took from his presentation is how derogatory words such as, “fag” or “queer” can be extremely offensive even if they weren’t intended to be. As a result, anytime the conference leaders heard a student use a derogatory word, we would simply respond with, “Get Real”. I was thoroughly impressed with how effective it was and by the end of the conference, we found students telling peers to “Get Real” when they heard it- I’ve never seen attitudes change so quickly before.”
The CYOA will forever be the first time Get REAL truly achieved its goal of speaking to students. And despite a few bumps in the road with the Western Administration, it was Western students who believed in us first, and enough to trust us enough to have us speak to their kids. We will be forever grateful. Look out for a testimonial video from counsellors from the CYOA which will be released Winter of next year!
Our first trip to Sarnia was a great success! The kids were great and had some really stimulating conversation. The second presentation in particular stood out. We had a student put up her hand and say something along the lines of the following:
“I am very pro-gay, and I have gay friends, but I do not believe that sex – the actual act itself – between two people of the same gender is natural and normal.”
It was a great moment for a lot of reasons. First of all, I have to give kudos to this student for putting up her hand and making a comment – that in itself is a difficult thing to do. But it was a great moment for what happened immediately after. About 20 kids (in an assembly of I’d say roughly 60 or so students) put up their hands, wanting to speak up and respond to their classmate. As a rule, we want our presentations to be from the heart, open, and non-intimidating. We want our presentations to foster discussion among students about these issues. At the same time, we aren’t there to give a sex-ed presentation.
So Zoe and I just did our best to answer calmly and methodically – doing all we could not to make the student in question feel bad or feel stupid; instead we tried to ask the question of “What is normal?” and the fact that society’s ‘norms’ change drastically from month to month, year to year, decade to decade, century to century. But the students who spoke out had terrific and truly insightful things to say. I was blown away by the thoughtfulness of the responses, which were made all the more powerful because they were coming from them and not us. Because that’s what we want. It was a truly great moment, and it brought to the forefront the students who were eager to speak up and share their ideas about equality. It was a truly fantastic moment, and one I (Chris) was proud to be a part of. Big thanks to Zoe for making the 3 + hour trek with me, and to the welcoming and open-minded staff and students from Arthur Voaden. What a phenomenal experience. We hope to be back soon.
Get REAL had the pleasure of visiting Malvern Collegiate Institute (in the Beaches, Toronto) for a second time this year – this time for a full assembly. Big thanks goes to the presenters MacKenzie Herd, Chris Studer, and Kevin Hennessey, Mr. Izzo for organizing, and Paola Studer for some great photography. It was a great presentation and one that really resonated well with the students! We look forward to being back next year!
Get REAL had a GREAT time presenting at Oakville Trafalgar today, marking our first High School presentation of the 2013 school year! One of our most fun presentations – lots of good laughs and joking around along with our message. Big thanks goes to Erin Collett for her help in both organizing and presenting and Carolann Malenfant (OT school social worker) and Kathy Raleigh (guidance counsellor) for helping coordinate! We had a really good time and got some great feedback from students after the presentations! We look forward to going back to OT in the new year!
Plus, we made it into the Oakville Beaver! Click here for the story!
So the other day something amazing happened. Backtrack a bit. A while back (this is Chris Studer writing this post, ps) myself and a bunch of my friends went down to Cancun with S-Trip! Unbelievable time. And a bunch of us brought our Get REAL hats down there, cause why not?
The resort was beautiful (Gran Caribe, 5 Star Hotel), the events and the nightlife were dope (because… it’s Cancun), and our STAFF (wink, wink, this is where this story is going) were fantastic. Especially our trip leader, Neil Duffy – great guy. Over the course of the wild and crazy week, he took the time to ask us about the hats we were wearing. We told him about Get REAL, and what we did. Neil and all of the staff thought GR was really cool, and then we all went back to whatever we were doing (having a fun time on the beach) and life and Cancun went on. I think someone may have given Neil a hat to take home… I can’t remember and it’s not really important to this story anyways. When we got back, a bunch of us exchanged facebook contacts, and I kept in touch with Neil. After going into Much Music to drop off hats for the host and the producer, I was walking back along Queen Street and who do I bump into but the one and only Duffy – this time, on the mean streets of T.O. (kidding) instead of out front of Daddyo’s on the Cancun Strip. We got to talking and he said it’d be cool to partner up and do something together, since S-Trip! works with students all the time, and the messages of anti-homophobia, anti-bullying, and general inclusivity are core to their values as a company. I said sure.
That random stop-and-chat on Queen near John has sparked a great new partnership that we are VERY excited about, as is S-Trip!. These are some pics from the first thing we’ve done together – dropping off some Get REAL hats for their Pink day at the office. But we are very excited about what is to come next. What caring, youthful, and forward thinking company, and what a perfect example of how weird and coincidental (or fateful?) life can be. The funniest part, is that the host and producer from Much Music weren’t even there (I had to go back on another day to give them their hats). Life is strange… and amazing.