In an attempt to inspire today's youth and celebrate diversity, School District 23 has taken on a concept that no other school district in the province has yet attempted - Harmony Day.
The idea was sparked when a teacher with SD23 visited a school in Australia, during the nationally celebrated Harmony Day. The teacher discovered how schools were fostering an environment of harmony for people of different cultures, ages, ethnicities, and interests.
Now, schools around the district submit videos, each year, that highlight the goals of Harmony day, which is to promote:
Last year a video was produced titled 'School District 23 dances in Harmony' which incorporated the entire district including the Superintendent. The District used it as a way to bring students together.
This year Tim Van Brummelen, one of the organizers of Harmony Day, decided to go even bigger with the video concept and produce something that wouldn't only inspire, but would also be admired by the students.
Work on the video began in September, where Van Brummelen collaborated with students from Okanagan Mission Secondary, along with Theatre teacher Ryan Grenier and parent and cinematographer Jiri Bakala.
"I wrote the script over the summer and we kind of honed in on it in the fall. Then two weeks ago we did a test shoot, which is when we realized what worked and what didn't work and that there were a whole bunch of surprises that were better than we had expect," explains Van Brummelen. "Then we shot the entire video in one day and Jiri edited it for us."
The soundtrack for the video was produced by professional composer Kenton Gilchrist, of Osoyoos.
"We went to his website and the first song was just perfect and he was willing to donate the track," says Van Brummelen. "He adapted the track to make it fit the whole video and the dub step is just perfect for the video."
The video depicts a student named Bobby who is dealing with several challenges in his life from bullying to family fights.
Grenier, who directed the video says 'Bobby' was filmed walking backwards through each scene while the kids around him were filmed walking forward and then the process was reversed.
"It is really a neat challenge because in real life he would be going through this day where he is being bullied and he is angry with his parents and no one likes him, but the premises is that he actually goes backwards through those things and erases them."
Bobby essentially rewinds through the horrible events to turn his day around, which is how the title 'Rewind' was derived.
Things really change for the character Bobby around three quarters through the video, explains Grenier.
"He gets this text, someone wants to hang out with him, someone else gives him a high five and his mom gives him a hug at the end. We think it was nice to have an educational moment in it and let everyone know there is stuff out there for kids and it doesn't always have to be negative."
The video, which is approximately five minutes long, was looped on screen during the Okanagan Mission School's Harmony Day pancake breakfast, Wednesday morning. According to Grenier the response was overwhelming.
"The students and staff at OKM are really proud of what happened. It is a great way to showcase our school especially with all the changes that are happening. It also shows people in the community what we do here, other than sports or whatever, because we have really talented kids here," he says.
The video has been picked up by several online anti-bullying sites across the country and has garnered the interest of the BC Ministry of Education.
"The big thing is we want to create awareness and with that the Harmony Day committee's goal is to let kids know that these problems aren't single they are universal," says Grenier. "If this gets some traction I think it would be really nice if every classroom in the district gets to see it (the video 'Rewind') and that there is some kind of discussion provoked."