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Walking the talk

Film makers Dee Martin, Mandy Lake, Poni Rapana, and Chris Ogdon. Photo by Adam Ware
A GROUP of teenagers from the Beenleigh area launched a ground-breaking documentary about bullying in September.

An initiative of the Smart Connections Program at Beenleigh Adult and Youth Service (BAYS), a Wesley Mission activity, the film Walk in My Shoes is a collaborative and multi media effort from about 25 young people who attend the Youth Space.

These young people have overcome huge personal challenges to be a part of this project, with many of them having experienced the debilitating effects of bullying.

Smart Connections coordinator Fiona Ware is immensely proud of the young people’s achievement and she is not the only one. The film has even sparked interest from Dr Ken Rigby, an expert on studies into bullying.

Ms Ware has worked on the project from the start and said she noticed a lot of changes in the young people as a result.

“I have noticed a huge difference individually and a big difference with them being together as a team.

“When they first came they had difficulty being with other young people… but now they have become a really tight, productive team because they have been working on something that they really like and that they are proud of.”

14-year-old Dee Martin worked on the documentary and said it was a great experience that made learning fun.

She said the team created animations, wrote and recorded music, and interviewed principals, teachers and parents for the film.

“We also interviewed people who were bullied when they were younger and now they are actually best friends with them.”

Ms Martin said working on the film taught her a lot about bullying and how to deal with it.

“A lot of us here have learnt to make it into a joke. You shouldn’t have to take it and you should turn to someone and not keep it as a secret. You shouldn’t have to keep it within yourself by being depressed.

“We are all human… even the bullies have a reason to bully.”

Mandy Lake of Flickchicks was hired as a consultant to guide the young people through the art of film making.

Ms Lake said the experience was “one of the most rewarding, life-changing and inspirational projects” she has worked on.

“I learnt humility, the power of human spirit, and a lot about strength in people,” said Ms Lake.

“I think a lot of these people would be completely lost in mainstream schooling.

“If it wasn’t for projects and programs like these, they would not be able to fly. They’d be lost in the system.”

Ms Lake was also amazed at the amount of talent she had stumbled upon when asked to do the job.

“I couldn’t believe what a goldmine of talent it was. With Dee, I didn’t even know she could sing. She just emerged and she’d written this song and I was listening to it being played back and I had tears streaming down my face.”

The young film makers have now completed a TAFE module to validate their learning experience and plan to take the film in to schools in the hope of overcoming bullying.

Photo : Film makers Dee Martin, Mandy Lake, Poni Rapana, and Chris Ogdon. Photo by Adam Ware