"Bullies have a problem. You don't!"
by Luke Hendry, The Intelligencer.
Students at Quinte Secondary School started their bullying
prevention week Monday with a high-energy talk instead of yet
Actor and extrovert Matt John Evans spoke to hundreds of students
in two sessions Monday morning. His wisecracking, screeching,
over-the-top delivery had students laughing but listening.
"At first I thought we were going to get lectured but then I was
blown away," said Bryan Coates, a Grade 12 student who helped
organize the event. "I was watching a comedy yet I was learning
something," he said.
It was part of "Be Kind to Me", a bullying awareness and
prevention week held across the Hastings and Prince Edward
District School Board.
Evans has appeared in the films Beowulf and Grendel, Black Swan,
Things to Do and others. He's also appeared in television programs and commercials. His advice to students: stay in school, be original and make smart choices.
"Bullies have a problem. You don't," he said. "There was a time in your life when you didn't care about what other people thought," he said, referring to early childhood. "We've got to get that back."
Evans advised students not to give up when faced with challenges. "When you quit a challenge, it becomes a problem. And a couple of years later that becomes a fear."
He noted what teenagers do influences others. "You guys are role models. "You don't have to be smart; you don't have to be rich; you don't have to be good lookin' -- little kids look up to teens. "They're looking at everything you do ... so you have to be careful. "You have to be original. You have to be creative ... thinking outside the box sometimes.," he said, explaining he did not mean creative in the artistic sense, but in their approach to life. Evans recalled his years as a struggling student who wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia until Grade 10. "I was labelled," he said. "I was called the stupid guy. "My computer doesn't say 'spell check.' It says, 'You have issues.'" He said he was rescued by Katimavik, a program providing job and life experience for older teens and young adults. After completing the program, Evans said, he realized he needed more schooling. He eventually was getting A+'s in university. "For the first time I tried; I cared; I worked." Evans earned a degree in communications and now works extensively with youth. He told the story of a friend who, while drunk at a party, walked a ledge on the 18th floor of a building. Half the crowd, including Evans, tried to stop the man; half cheered for him to continue. He jumped to his death.
"If you have friends that do things that are crazy you have a responsibility to talk to them," said Evans. He said those people may refuse to discuss their own actions "but when you walk away it might stick.
"You can help a friend." He also urged students to drink responsibly, seek help if addicted, be firm in refusing drinks they don't want and to talk to their friends who drink excessively.
Evans' appearances were sponsored by Quinte Broadcasting. John Sudds, a child and youth counsellor at the school, said the school has a full week of activities planned. They include a youth forum on bullying and a conference on violence against women. "We subscribe to the notion that hurt people hurt people," Sudds said. School staff, therefore, try to help students by building self-esteem and using other approaches to stop problems before they happen.
"They're less inclined to hurt others if they're feeling good about themselves and feeling good about their life choices."
Photo Credit - Luke Hendry, The Intelligencer
Matt is presently booking speaking engagements for the 2016 calendar year. If you are a teacher, counsellor and affiliated with a youth organization who may benefit from hearing Matt's motivational talk - please contact him today for more details. To send Matt a message, please use our online contact form and he will be in touch with you shortly.
Delivering powerful, motivational programs for the youth of today.
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