Freedom from Fear Day

Gulf Island Secondary School
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

By Thor Magnusson (Grade 12)

Recently in my school, there was an organized event called Freedom From Fear Day. It was an event partly organized by SWOVA, (Salt Spring Women Opposed to Violence and Abuse), and our school board. The main theme was to promote a safe environment in my school. There were guest speakers and workshops held by volunteer members, off-island participants and students.

Part of the event involved participants from Victoria High performing skits dealing with current teen problems. Although the messages were strong and informative, it seemed like a re-hash of 'after-school specials' rolled up into fifty minutes. The problems the actors portrayed are quite real among teens today, but some of the characters seemed quite outdated and unrealistic. The lack of realism made it harder for us, the viewers, to apply the situations to a real life setting.

Other workshops included a Healthy Relationships workshop, which was presented by three of the school's peer counsellors and a Self Defense course, given by a certified instructor, showing how you can defend yourself if attacked. This two hour course was quite eventful because the instructor was paranoid. Her way to prevent an attack was to avoid any sort of verbal contact with strangers. Other than her weird behavior, she taught the group a variety of punches, kicks and assorted maneuvers to cause pain to an attacker. Also, members of the local Transition House came to talk about the programs that they offer.

At the end of the day, each group was to return to their designated class and discuss their thoughts on the various workshops, courses and plays. We had the chance to express our ideas on topics such as: drugs, violence, sex and peer pressure, which proved to be very interesting. Students in my class were quite involved. Even our teacher joined in and added stories of her past experiences, giving us insight into what it was like to grow up 20 years ago. As you can guess, problems these days are not so different from problems of 20 years ago....

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