Respect yourself. It's a theme that resonated with a group of high school students in British Columbia who were asked to produce a series of anti-gang videos for young people.
We thought about how in a gang you're just a number," says 15-year-old Sydney Ramage, who attends the Kamloops School of the Arts and served as the project director. "
You're not respected in a gang."
Last year, members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) — B.C.'s anti-gang agency — visited the school to talk about its role in combatting organized crime and gangs.
From that event, the idea was born to have the school's media arts students produce four videos with powerful anti-gang messages. More than 40 students were involved in the project.
We just thought, hey, wouldn't it be great if we could get the students to produce these," says RCMP Sgt. Brenda Winpenny, a media relations officer with the CFSEU. "
To have the students energized, full of ideas and eager to spread an anti-gang message was incredible."
CFSEU provided the young filmmakers with some direction and then let them brainstorm ideas over two days. Winpenny says the students figured out what anti-gang messages could have the most impact on young people.
One of the videos shows how quickly life can change. It features a group of young people playfully passing around food at a table. The image blurs then sharpens again, showing the same young people passing around drugs and money.
Kirk MacFarlane is a visual media teacher at the school who led the project.
The nice thing for me to see was the kids' passion and their drive," he says. "
And we let them come up with their own ideas."
Since the videos were posted in April, they've been viewed by more than 2,200 people on the CFSEU's social media platforms.
I hope these videos touch some people and encourage them to make the right choices," says Ramage.