Emily Boud and Ally Nicholls,
Year 13 students at Dunstan High School, requested assistance
from the OMCT for their cause and were delighted to receive $2,750.
Sticks ‘n’ Stones is an anti-bullying initiative set up by young people for young people. Emily Boud (17) and Ally Nicholls (17) are two founder members of Sticks ‘n’ Stones and assisted in raising funds for the organisation through Central Otago Rural Education Activities Programme (COREAP) via the Central Otago District of the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust (OMCT). Spokesperson for Sticks ‘n’ Stones, Karla Sanders, thanked the OMCT for their financial assistance and sent the following report:
“The truth is words can, and do, hurt. At Sticks ‘n’ Stones, we’re a group of teenagers who have seen first-hand what words can do. We are a new generation, with a new way of communicating, and with that come new problems. All too often we are seeing words on a screen that hurt us. Texts, Tumblr, Facebook, Ask.fm, Snapchat, there are malicious people on all of them taking advantage of the screen behind which they hide. Parents can tell us to delete our accounts, teachers can block the websites at school, older people can give us dismissive advice like, “so go spend more time outside,” but the World Wide Web is a big place – and it reaches out. The prevention of cyber bullying is not a simple exercise; it requires an ongoing commitment from every right-thinking person.
“The aim of Sticks ‘n’ Stones is to challenge attitudes about bullying from the inside out. We understand the challenges and the opportunities presented by life online and are able to connect with our peers to better understand the impact of our words and actions. Moving away from ‘fear based’ messages or programmes based on the experiences of adults, to valuing the ideas of young people and putting them up the front. Working in small groups we enable even the quietest voices to be heard, we are also able to actively engage more young people. Taking positive action with messages and information that is relevant, authentic and hopefully memorable, Sticks ’n Stones is our way of standing up to have our voices heard, to advocate for more young people to be involved in decision making and co-construction of resources and information, and to make a difference, no matter how small, one person at a time, so that bullying is no longer waved away as “a part of growing up.”
“We are very grateful to the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust for the grant we have received which will go a long way to enable us to encourage young people who are vulnerable, or directly being affected by bullying, to seek help and support. We are currently meeting with a range of wonderful organisations to find out about the services they offer that might allow us to prepare an eye-catching flyer that we can have readily available in a range of locations outside of the areas where information is normally provided. We are also excited to be able to start community ‘drop in’ sessions in August and to have signs made to promote these. At Sticks ‘n’ Stones we believe that the more information people have, the more they are able to access support and assistance so that they do not feel alone and helpless.”
Their campaign has already had impact with the NZ Government passing the ‘Harmful Digital Communications Bill’ in 2015 wherein a perpetrator of malicious texts or other communication deemed harmful to the receiver can find themselves in court. To learn more about the work Sticks ‘n’ Stones carry out in the community, please visit this video (link below) that has young people explaining, in their own words, how Sticks ‘n’ Stones does what it does. The video is one of three parts, the other two can also be viewed on Youtube.
The Sticks ‘n’ Stones Blog is also an informative place to find out more, this is on their website at www.sticksnstones.co.nz while their Facebook page has some great information too www.facebook.com/onlinesticks
NOTE: If there are responsible parents or caring grandparents out there who are concerned about cyber bullying affecting their offspring and how to combat this crime, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Sticks ‘n’ Stones – The NZ Campaign Against Cyber Bullying (details below).