Young prison team leads anti-bullying campaign

Issue: Volume 98, Number 3

Posted: 25 February 2019
Reference #: 1H9rSS

Behind prison walls, a team of young men has created an award-winning resource to start conversations about an important issue.

Initial drawings for Letz Lead’s anti-bullying book.

Driven by a desire to give back to their communities, six young men from the Youth Unit at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison are encouraging others to take a stand against bullying.

Calling themselves Letz Lead(external link), the team wrote and illustrated an educational resource, Can you relate?, as part of the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES). The book is supported by a rap CD and yellow bracelets, which symbolise anti-bullying.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison Education Tutor Nic Scotland says when deciding how to best give back to the community the team chose to tackle bullying because of its effect on a large number of people.

“They have a social conscience and decided their YES project would be about something that would benefit youth in their communities,” she says.

“Because they’re in the prison they aren’t able to protect their younger siblings, so one of the main things is that they wanted to stop bullying.”

Can you relate? is aimed at youth aged 12 and over. The booklet and rap both use kaupapa Māori values and whakatauki (proverbs) to start conversations around feelings and emotions.

Award-winning achievement

Letz Lead won the Resilience category at the YES National Excellence Awards late last year.

This award is given to a company that has successfully completed the programme despite facing barriers, difficulties and hardships not faced by the average company.

“The group themselves aren’t actually able to access internet or computers at all so one of the main difficulties – which sounds so simple – was just to scan in the imagery that the guys had drawn, then photoshop, collate and send it to the printer,” says Nic.

The team needed to rely on tutors and contacts from across Corrections to take imagery offsite to load on to Photoshop and to front their product.

“They weren’t able to go to the market days that all of the other secondary schools had access to; most other teams were able to get their product directly out to the people.”

The team’s rap ‘Stand Up Together Make a Change’ is the underlying story in the book.

Multiple skills learned

The team gained confidence and practical skills from achieving a finished product, which is now housed in the National Library of New Zealand.

“They learned all of the business skills that will enable them, even if they don’t run their own businesses,” says Nic.

“They understand the process; they understand the demands and the commitment. It gave them a deeper understanding of the way the world works and the part that they can play in it.”

While there are certain challenges faced by a team operating out of a prison, Letz Lead were also “incredibly motivated” to overcome any obstacles.

“Most of these guys haven’t been given these opportunities before and so the guys who we’re teaching are so incredibly grateful for the opportunities they’ve got in front of them. They’re definitely looking at every single learning experience as a real-life experience rather than just a classroom task,” she says.

Letz Lead is continuing to achieve their aim to help others, with profits from the sale of Can you relate? going to the Youthline and Kids Can charities. The Bullying-Free NZ website features their work as an example of a student-led bullying prevention resource.

The team has done well to create a difference on a national scale, Nic says.

“We’re incredibly proud of them and their commitment, even with a whole lot of other stuff going on in their lives.

“These guys were in the top 11 schools [which were YES finalists] in the country … it is because of the commitment and the learning that these guys put in.”

Letz Lead will now focus on promoting their anti-bullying message to all New Zealand school communities.

“We’re trying to make a change and help people relate to what victims and bullies go through,” says one member of the team.

The young men in the Youth Unit are already thinking about concepts for this year’s YES project.

Get ready for Bullying-Free NZ Week 2019!

Bullying-Free New Zealand Week(external link) starts 13 May, and ends with the Mental Health Foundation’s Pink Shirt Day on Friday 17 May.

Our theme this year is ‘Whakanuia Tōu Āhua Ake! Celebrating Being Us!’ It’s a great opportunity for students to celebrate what makes them unique – such as ability, appearance, culture, race, gender or sexuality – and encourage schools to build environments where everyone is welcome, safe and free from bullying.

Schools can take part in a range of fun and easy bullying prevention-themed activities and take the opportunity to review their policy and practice.

For more information, free resources and details of this year’s competition, go to Bullying-Free NZ(external link).

Affected by bullying?

If you’ve been affected by bullying – you’re not alone. Bullying is never okay and you don’t have to put up with it.

If you’re being bullied:

  • tell the person who is bullying you to stop (if you feel that you can), or just walk away
  • tell someone you trust like a parent, teacher, aunt, school counsellor. Keep telling adults until someone does something to stop it
  • spend time with friends who help you feel good about yourself
  • don’t reply to any messages that make you feel sad, threatened or embarrassed. Often people who bully others are just looking for a reaction
  • keep all messages and take photos of uncomfortable posts. Make a note of the time, date and content. This is evidence you might need if the problem gets worse.

Find out more at link). Visit Netsafe(external link) for advice about staying safe online.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:15 am, 25 February 2019

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