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Ontario Trillium Foundation
What Students are Saying
"Before I came to Community Builders I use to think that bullies were just mean. Now I know there's a good person underneath - they just got hurt."
(Brantford student, Grade 6, Brantford, ON)

From the moment he arrived at his new school in a working class neighbourhood in Sudbury, 9-year old Michael knew there was going to be trouble. His mixed French and Ojibway heritage in a largely white school already made him different. But his large body and his big learning challenges in class made him an immediate target of bullying. The name-calling and ridicule started and built, and the fury inside of him rose in response. The only thing he had to fight back with was his size, so Michael lashed out. He began bullying others. He found himself in the principal's office again and again, constantly in trouble for his violence towards others in the yard.

Then one day Community Builders came to his school and did a workshop in his Grade 4 class about how people get hurt by racism, sexism, young peoples' oppression and classism, and how even though they are born good and innocent, they start hurting others. They talked about how boys have to keep all their feelings inside to be real boys, even when they're really hurting. The class did skits on how to stop the bullying without being mean to the person bullying. They talked about how everyone belongs in the community circle, even those people acting out their hurt.

Michael was riveted. Over and over again he raised his hand to respond to questions. He knew exactly what the trainers were talking about! For the first time, his classmates saw him shine. They heard his insightful answers, and began to really see the big-hearted boy under the tough exterior.

Michael was invited to train to be a leader with Community Builders. He was thrilled, and after that, his teachers said they saw a different boy. He entered the schoolyard believing he was someone important because he had been picked for leadership. Gradually he was able to make friends and solve problems in a new way, from a position of confidence in himself. He led workshops with his teammates in the younger grades, and even though he sometimes had trouble reading his lines, he patiently and kindly listened to the little ones talk about their experiences of being hurt, and explained how they could stick up for each other.

Michael's mother was at the Closing Celebration of his Community Builders training program and while she said very little, there were tears in her eyes as she watched her son on the stage with his teammates. (Sudbury, ON)

"Over the last 2 years that I've been a Community Builders leader, I've learned more and more about how to help people. At this Institute I enjoyed learning how to mediate and help people solve their problems by using their own thinking. There are boys who act cool - if you trip over them or touch them by mistake, they get all upset. Now I know how to go up to a person and use the mediation skills we learned.
In Iraq and other places people make war to make peace - but it's not making peace, it's creating more violence. If they want peace they should work together and share things equally." (Vilarka, Oakdale Park Middle School, Jane Finch/Toronto, ON)

"One time at my school, before I came to the Institute, my friend got into a fight with my other friend and they were like really mad at each other and I really wanted to help but I didn't know how. All I could do was go get a teacher. That was before I came to Institute 2. Now I know how I could help, by using my mediation skills.
I have had experiences of people turning to me for help at school. A girl asked me to help her when she was in a fight because she knew I was in Community Builders. I've seen a lot of changes in my leadership from coming here. Like before when I had to go in front of the class to present something I would be really really scared but know I feel more confident." (Elicia, Onondaga-Brant, Brantford, ON)

"You've given us the power of love."
(Becky, AB Ellis, Espanola, ON)

"[Before becoming a Community Builders leader] I wasn't really mean to others but I didn't give them a chance to show their insides, how they are feeling. Now I am more respectful and give others a chance to express themselves. At home, I used to fight with my little brother because he goes into my room and touches my stuff. Now I talk to him and get to know how he feels when I do mean things to him."
(B, Stilecroft P.S., Jane Finch/Toronto, ON)

"We don't want to overpower bullies; we want to make them allies."
(Susan, Webbwood School, Webbwood, ON)

"I used to think that what people wore made them cool. Appearances don't make people cool, it what's inside of them. I am more courageous to talk to my teachers. Sometimes in class I have a question, but I think to myself this is a crazy or a stupid question so I was afraid to ask the teacher. Now, I feel OK to ask any question."
(N, Stilecroft P.S., Jane Finch/Toronto, ON)

"People are starting to respect each other. I saw some students were picking on this girl… I went over and spoke to them and now they, all of them, are more respectful to one another."
(H, Driftwood P.S., Jane Finch/Toronto, ON)

"[why do you stay in Community Builders when other people tease you for it?] Why should we listen to them?? Listen to what your heart says and it says to stay [even with the teasing] and if you stay in Community Builders you're changing the world."(Adam, Webbwood P.S., Webbwood, ON)