MONTREAL — Hearing story after story of teenagers who commit suicide because of bullying, McGill University social work student Meagan Reinish decided to do something.
Partnering with Federation CJA’s YAD FedNext TOV, Reinish initiated an anti-bullying campaign that led to the making of a youth-led video. It has been selected for the It Gets Better website and has already received over 1,600 views.
“Although I have no personal connection with [bullying], I have zero tolerance for it and these stories really touched me. I felt such empathy for these people, I knew I had to spread awareness in any way I could,” said Reinish.
“A video on the Internet is a great outlet for this. I thought the It Gets Better website was just the coolest and greatest site and I wanted to be a part of such an amazing project.”
With YAD FedNext TOV leaders, the idea become concrete after months of meetings and planning.
“We were happy to lend our resources and knowledge to this creative endeavour,” said YAD FedNext director Kim Cola.
“YAD FedNext TOV connects young adults to volunteer opportunities, and the whole goal of the TOV program is to help ‘repair the world’, so this initiative fit with our mission and values, and we knew we would be able to make it happen.
“It was inspiring to see so many young people stepping up and taking ownership of a project and seeing it through to successful completion.”
During the meetings, the idea began to take shape to use shocking statistics about bullying and then finish with a message of hope. The committee worked on a script and the production of the video, and acted in it.
“They had come up with the idea of [giving] quotes and statistics related to bullying, in hopes that it will really touch the viewer and get the message out,” said Nick Frai, the volunteer director of the video.
“Hearing this, I thought it was genius because in the end, that is really what this video does. It gets to you and makes you think.
“Eventually, even people who were not in the video were sharing it online and complimenting it. It is such a good feeling to know that after all the hard work, the message against bullying and tolerance is spreading and being understood.”
Reinish said that “watching it makes me feel like we did something really special. I think that our generation can have a huge impact for change if we voice our opinions and don’t stand by idly when other people demonstrate hatred and prejudice against others.
“My campaign’s main goal was to say that it does get better, that people need to know their self-worth and not hurt themselves. A lot of people have told me it sends a powerful message and at the end of the day, that is what I had hoped it would do.”
To view the video, visit http://www.itgetsbetter.org/video/entry/jrcv8chly8a/.
The It Gets Better Project has become a worldwide movement, inspiring more than 30,000 user-created videos viewed more than 40 million times.
The project has received submissions from celebrities, organizations, activists, politicians and media personalities, including President Barack Obama, Adam Lambert, Anne Hathaway, Colin Farrell, Matthew Morrison of Glee, Joe Jonas, and Ellen DeGeneres.
YAD FedNext, geared to 18 to 24 year-olds, provides networking and socializing opportunities, promotes Jewish values and encourages volunteering and getting involved in the community. For more information, visit www.yadmontreal.org.