Shane Koyczan, the Canadian spoken word poet whose powerful performance of “We Are More“ during the Vancouver Olympics set off a collective “wow” across Canada – has launched a raw and emotional video project to help schools and families make a far-reaching and long-lasting impact on bullying. Believing the response to bullying has to reach beyond school hallways and into our culture, Shane is calling on the broader community to help spread his message of hope to the countless victims who often run out of it.
…I’m not the only kid who grew up this way/Surrounded by people who used to say that rhyme about sticks and stones/As if broken bones hurt more than the names we got called/And we got called them all…To this day kids are still being called names…
As both a victim and perpetrator of bullying, Shane wrote “To This Day” to explore the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have – to show the lonely, the outcast, the picked on, and put down that they are loved and cared for – and to strongly encourage victims to believe that the name callers are wrong. He then called on animators and motion artists to illustrate 20-second segments of his six-and-half-minute poem, receiving an overwhelming 400 entries from around the globe. The official launch of this crowd-sourced work will coincide with Pink Shirt Day on February 27th a day focused on showing that kindness and humanness are large parts of our identity.
“My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways,” says Shane, who after years of abuse as a victim of bullying eventually became a bully himself. “I’ve spent years working to restore the better parts of my nature. I want to cheer on the underdog, celebrate the strengths in the lonely and outcast, and reassure the despondent that endurance is a kind of credential for this life.”
“I was one of those people who watched with awe as Shane helped to redefine our nation to the world in 2010,” says supporter W. Brett Wilson, who was also bullied in school, and who, as a philanthropist, has backed various anti-bullying initiatives. “I believe Shane’s incredible artistry and powerful message have the potential to do what hundreds of programs and millions of dollars haven’t yet done: reach into people’s souls and guts and hearts and make them understand bullying in a new way. Rather than waiting for the next tragedy to happen, we now have an opportunity to help tackle bullying collectively by spreading Shane’s profound message of hope and self-compassion.”
Shane Koyczan is one of the world’s premier spoken word performers. His first published collection, Visiting Hours, was the only work of poetry selected by both the Guardian and the Globe and Mail for their Best Books of the Year lists in 2005. Born and raised in northwestern Canada, Shane was the first poet from outside the USA to win the USA National Individual Poetry Slam. Project partners include Giant Ant, a creative studio that tells stories through moving pictures and sound, and bullying.org, an organization that helps prevent bullying through prevention and awareness.