No Turning Away: O’Neill High School
No Turning Away was a collaborative initiative between O'Neill High School and the Interactive Media and Performance (IMP) Labs. I was approached by some teachers from O’Neill High School who wanted to engage in some sort of collaboration. I came up with the idea of focusing on the problematic issue of bullying, but rather instead of only calling out the bully, I wanted to highlight the importance of everyone, including the bystanders, taking responsibility to stop bullying. Thus, I proposed we create a project around the theme of No Turning Away.
Within the project, I asked the students to make a commitment to the theme of the project - “No Turning Away!” We also asked that the teachers and facilitators involved in the project to be accountable for their actions, to be involved in their communities, and to come to the assistance of their peers when they are in need. For this group, the performance became a call to action – a reminder that we are all implicated in what is going on around us and that we all have the ability to make healthy decisions and create change.
No Turning Away was an intensive five-week hip hop project with 30 grade 12 Phys Ed students working together with Dr Charity Marsh and her assistants in the IMP Labs to create an entire hip hop presentation of beats, raps, graffiti art, DJ skills, and break-dance moves focusing on the theme. Over the 5-weeks the students came to the IMP Labs at the University of Regina to work on beat-making, rapping, emceeing, djing, and graffiti skills. They created the final logo for the project and presented as part of the performance. To work on the break-dance component of the project Charity and B-Boy Retaliate along with his crew, came to facilitate dance workshops at O'Neil High School. The project highlighted for the students the importance of understanding the relationship between athleticism and the arts, and how both fitness and creativity are integral to a community's overall health and wellbeing. Another important part of this project was the collaboration between the students and a number of artists at the IMP Labs including DJ Bedhead (Beth), DJ Locust (John), DJ Brains (Brennan), B-Boy Retaliate (Ryan), Elijah, Peter, Dalton, and rapper Def3.