News

iChoose Debuts in Auckland Schools

posted on 1 March 2013

On 25 February 2013, the SGINZ-sponsored iChoose anti bullying programme was rolled out to Auckland high schools. 
Debuting in front of Year 9 students at Mount Albert Grammar (High) School, one of the largest and most multicultural schools in New Zealand, the cast were warmly welcomed and given plenty of positive feedback from both students and teachers. The performance captivated the audience and kept them engaged throughout. The personal experiences shared by the cast resonated with students, many of whom left with a smile. And teachers were very appreciative of Yukie Oki, a Mount Albert teacher who had arranged for the program to come to her school.
Later that day, iChoose was similarly well received at central Auckland’s Dilworth School, an all-boys boarding school established in 1906. The humour combined with realistic scenarios identified key issues of violence. Later, through the workshops, students engaged on a more personal level with the cast and freely asked questions. One activity was based around giving and receiving complements. Students found complementing themselves and others a unique and refreshing experience. One boy said he found the exercise particularly uplifting. Toward the end of the workshop, a teacher shared his impression of iChoose and a quote he found profound and important. Another student stood up and recalled a quote by Gandhi used in the performance, which he felt was an essential point.
There can be little doubt that iChoose has had a great impact on students at both schools, providing food for thought and a better awareness of passive violence. It will be of value to follow up on these schools in a few months to see the changes that have occurred in terms of bullying and passive violence.
The many comments submitted by the students and other audience members include the following:
“Really informative and funny at the same time. I liked how everybody had their own real experiences, which made it really easy to relate to—how no matter what is happening, believe in yourself and you can push through.” • (Sarah Gudsell)
“It was a great performance, it was great how it had a lot of meaning. I liked how they showed their own stories.” • (Zak)
“I thought it was very good, and I think even though it did not relate to me, I know people who have been bullied can relate to the show. I liked the humor and the fact I could learn things. I learned how to respond to bullying and how to help people who have been bullied. ” • (Anonymous)
“I liked how it had different perspectives and stories. I learned that you are not alone and to be kind to yourself and others.” • (Jaimee)
“What an interesting way to teach as about passive violence. I learned that even though the actors have only been together for a week they are really open about very personal stuff and also open to sharing in front of an audience.” • (Shannon)
“It was matched perfectly. Stories connected with the kids. Uses metaphors. I wish I had known it was such a powerful performance so I could have invited the student mediators.” • (Paul Ferner, counselor)
“Just wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to all the team from iChoose who visited Dilworth this week. We have had some wonderful feedback from the boys who really related to your cast and the messages that they delivered. Please pass on our appreciation to all involved and we would certainly be keen to be part of any future presentations from the ICAP organization. Kind regards” • (Neil Ritchie, Head of Senior Campus, Dilworth School)

On 25 February 2013, the SGINZ-sponsored iChoose anti bullying programme was rolled out to Auckland high schools. 

Debuting in front of Year 9 students at Mount Albert Grammar (High) School, one of the largest and most multicultural schools in New Zealand, the cast were warmly welcomed and given plenty of positive feedback from both students and teachers. The performance captivated the audience and kept them engaged throughout. The personal experiences shared by the cast resonated with students, many of whom left with a smile. And teachers were very appreciative of Yukie Oki, a Mount Albert teacher who had arranged for the program to come to her school.

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iChoose makes an impact at Albany Senior High and Tangaroa College

posted on 28 February 2013

 

iChoose makes an impact at Albany Senior High and Tangaroa College.
26 February - The second day of iChoose proved another thrilling day for the team. Staff and students of Albany Senior High School warmly welcomed cast and crew onto their gorgeous campus. Albany is a state-of-the-art facility where, according to Principal Barbara Cavanagh, students are focused on as young adults. All along the corridors these young adults voiced their excitement at the appearance of this visiting group of young performers.
As the show began, teachers and somewhat fidgety students were taken by surprise at iChoose’s emotional power, and they were quick to go along for the ride. Even beyond the performance, students responded to the individual experiences shared by the cast, testimonials regarding issues that matched the students’ own personal struggles.
Following the show, a majority of the students joined with the cast members to share their own experiences of how passive violence and bullying had affected their lives. Later, cast and crew were again welcomed by Barbara Cavanagh and presented with gifts in appreciation of their efforts to spread awareness of the various forms of violence at a time when New Zealand schools had been experiencing an excessive amount of violence.
The afternoon venue provided a shift of scenery from the ultramodern Albany to the more stately 36-year-old Tangaroa College. Tangaroa, whose school website proclaims its pride in offering opportunities to Years 7–13 students “to experience and grow their languages and cultural understandings,” served as a homecoming for some of the cast members.
As students entered the school stadium for the performance, they seemed enthralled by the various showmanship aspects of the professional entertainment they were about to witness—the lighting setup, the sound system and the iChoose banners. They remained highly responsive to the messages delivered throughout the performance.
Afterward, the students experienced a deep sense of connection with the cast, especially former Tangaroa students Lole and Isaac. Students and staff contributed highly positive feedback, thanking the iChoose team for having beautifully exposed a major issue prevalent in that particular suburb.
Among the many comments submitted by students and faculty members were the following:
“It was entertaining and gave me goose bumps. I learned about passive violence and bullying.” • (Magan)
“At first, I thought it was a little silly, and then I found it really started to give me chills and make me think about bullying. I liked that the real-life stories were ones we could all relate to in some way.” • (Charlie)
“It was entertaining and very interesting to watch. I learned about bullying.” • (Anonymous)
“I really liked it. The actors were very good and showed real emotion. I could relate very well. I learned that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and that I’m amazing. I also learned that everyone is going through something and they try to hide it.” • (Hope)

26 February - The second day of iChoose proved another thrilling day for the team. Staff and students of Albany Senior High School warmly welcomed cast and crew onto their gorgeous campus. Albany is a state-of-the-art facility where, according to Principal Barbara Cavanagh, students are focused on as young adults. All along the corridors these young adults voiced their excitement at the appearance of this visiting group of young performers.

As the show began, teachers and somewhat fidgety students were taken by surprise at iChoose’s emotional power, and they were quick to go along for the ride. Even beyond the performance, students responded to the individual experiences shared by the cast, testimonials regarding issues that matched the students’ own personal struggles.

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iChoose Wows at Dress Rehearsal

posted on 25 February 2013

The dress rehearsal was held ahead of the roll-out of the programme in ten Auckland high schools the following week.   Among the audience were Labour MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio and his teenage daughter, Dale Ferris (National Network for Stopping Violence), Johnnie Black and Christina Barruel from the Peace Foundation, teachers and students from Albany Senior High School, Kelston Boys High School, Waiuku College and Epsom Girls’ Grammar, parents and friends of the cast and members of SGINZ.
Using music and drama to depict the many forms of bullying and passive violence in a classroom setting, the powerful 20 minute performance highlighted issues facing young Kiwis like physical abuse, binge eating, racism, cyber-bullying and suicide though the lives of the classroom characters.   The audience were clearly enthralled.  Many had tears in their eyes and the performance ended to a standing ovation.
During the discussion forum that took place after the performance, it became clear that the characters and stories were based on the cast members’ own personal experiences of not fitting in, being different and coping with internal and external put-downs.   Audience members asked questions about what respect means to youth, the meaning of passive violence and the difference between arrogance and respect.   
The end of the discussion, a representative from the Police as well as the Peace Foundation and the other anti-violence groups expressed interest in collaborating with SGINZ to promote the anti- bullying programme.  Two additional schools also signed up to having iChoose performed at their schools. 
What the audience said
“A very powerful way to ‘touch’ young people – it was an authentic approach through music, dance, song, drama – mediums which young people love!  What I learnt was that each character was telling their own story and the performance of each member of the case was very convincing as a result.  It was an awesome piece of work.” – Christina Barruel (Cool Schools National manager and Trainer, Peace Foundation)
“Short, sharp, to the point – it was easy to digest from a young person’s perspective.  There was excellent delivery and opportunity for discussion after.” Dale Ferris, Project Manager for the Respect All People (RAP) Project
“I would like to commend the cast and crew for the show.  The key thing for me was the dialogue in the end when I learnt that even though the cast were depicting a character, it was based on their own stories.  It was powerful, brilliant and real.  These are real stories that people can relate to, even in my family.  These made it more powerful  - the personal stories and how they overcame their struggle.   I would like to talk to the organisers to take it further than the ten schools in Auckland. “ Su’a William Sio (Labour MP for Mangere)
“The performance was very emotive. It will connect powerfully with our young people. A very authentic stimulus to further conversation.”  G. Ditchburn, Dean Waiuku College
“I was suitably impressed with the extent of the work that has been done by the company. The performance at times exceeded expectations.  My only perceived criticism was that the music seemed to drown out the initial dialogue, an issue which appeared to be rectified quickly.”   Philip Woodhall-Martin.
Kelston Boys High School
“High energy, great choreography and singing, moving stories.” Sally Mabelle
“Totally Impressed. The honesty of the cast is what will strike the most impact with teens.” Wendy Taylor
“I really enjoyed it. As a teacher myself, I realised I need to get to know my students’ stories” Ken Patten
“It was an amazing, excellent work . I learned not to bully others and be nice to myself and others” 5 year old girl.

Under the direction of Lisa Brickell, the multi-ethnic cast members of iChoose wowed the 210 strong audience at the dress rehearsal of the show held at the Soka Gakkai International of NZ Culture Centre in Ellerslie, Auckland on Saturday 23 February. 

The dress rehearsal was held ahead of the roll-out of the programme in ten Auckland high schools the following week.   Among the audience were Labour MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio and his teenage daughter, Dale Ferris (National Network for Stopping Violence), Johnnie Black and Christina Barruel from the Peace Foundation, teachers and students from Albany Senior High School, Kelston Boys High School, Waiuku College and Epsom Girls’ Grammar, parents and friends of the cast and members of SGINZ.

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‘iChoose’, Innovative Anti Bullying Programme Launches in Auckland Schools

posted on 19 February 2013

“iChoose”, an innovative anti-bullying programme will be launched in Auckland schools on 25 February 2013.  The programme was launched in the United States in 2010 and has since toured high schools in Hawaii, New York, Los Angeles and Oslo, Norway.

iChoose is aimed alping youth bullying for what it is: a choice.

iChoose challenges people to stop, think and remember that their choices matter. The programme comprises of a 20 minute musical production by young New Zealand performers, followed by a discussion with students facilitated by the cast members. The show will be followed up with the internationally successful Victory Over Violence (“VOV”) exhibition. 

‘iCHOOSE’, INNOVATIVE ANTI BULLYING PROGRAMME LAUNCHES IN AUCKLAND SCHOOLS
“iChoose”, an innovative anti-bullying programme will be launched in Auckland schools on 25 February 2013.  The programme was launched in the United States in 2010 and has since toured high schools in Hawaii, New York, Los Angeles and Oslo, Norway.
iChoose is aimed at helping youth bullying for what it is: a choice.
iChoose challenges people to stop, think and remember that their choices matter.   The programme comprises of a 20 minute musical production by young New Zealand performers, followed by a discussion with students facilitated by the cast members.  The show will be followed up with the internationally successful Victory Over Violence (“VOV”) exhibition. 
iChoose was created by the international Committee of Artists for Peace (ICAP), an organisation founded by international artists like renowned Jazz musicians Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, guitarist Carlos Santana and actor Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing in “Dallas”) who are committed to using the power of creativity to foster a culture of peace and non-violence.  The founding principles of ICAP are inspired by Buddhist and Gandhian ideals of non-violence.   ICAP is bringing the programme to New Zealand. 
Featuring actress Bronwyn Turei (Cody in the hit TV series “Go Girls”), Auckland comedian Greg Goodyer and hip hop artist Jaime Latima, cast members for the NZ production have been picked locally. iChoose director Lisa Brickell says that the iChoose musical has been adapted to reflect the unique Pacific flavour of Auckland. 
                                                                      
Bronwyn Turei        Greg Goodyer
“The unique thing about the cast is that each of them has a strong personal connection to bullying, either as a bully or someone who has experienced bullying.  During the audition, we asked the performers to share their thoughts on bullying and we were blown away by their personal experiences,“ Lisa says
Lisa is passionate about promoting non-violence among young people.  She is part of the Buddhist group, Soka Gakkai International of New Zealand (SGINZ) which is assisting ICAP with the NZ tour. Lisa and her husband, Dion Hitchins were active in SGINZ’s award winning programme Victory Over Violence Aotearoa, an anti-violence programme run by young volunteers in Auckland, Reporoa, Wellington and Dunedin.  
“iChoose and VOV is about helping to break the cycle of violence among teenagers.  A big part of these programmes is recognising passive violence, which according to Gandhi, is fuel for physical violence.  In order to stop physical violence we need to identify and cut off the fuel supply,” she says.
“Getting involved in these programmes helped me to confront the history of depression in my family and helped Dion face the murder of a close family member by three teenagers.” 
iChoose will be performed in ten Auckland high schools from 25 February 2013.  There are plans to tour Wellington schools in 2014.
What: iChoose dress rehearsal. Open to the public.
When: Saturday 23 February 2013, 1.30pm – 3pm
Where: 40 Eaglehurst Road, Ellerslie, Auckland.  
Bronwyn Turei

Bronwyn Turei

Entry is free.More information on the International Committee of Artists of Peace (ICAP) can be found on www.icapeace.org.

iChoose was created by the international Committee of Artists for Peace (ICAP), an organisation founded by international artists like renowned Jazz musicians Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, guitarist Carlos Santana and actor Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing in “Dallas”) who are committed to using the power of creativity to foster a culture of peace and non-violence. The founding principles of ICAP are inspired by Buddhist and Gandhian ideals of non-violence. ICAP is bringing the programme to New Zealand. 

 

Greg Goodyear

Greg Goodyear

Featuring actress Bronwyn Turei (Cody in the hit TV series “Go Girls”), Auckland comedian Greg Goodyer and hip hop artist Jaime Latima, cast members for the NZ production have been picked locally. iChoose director Lisa Brickell says that the iChoose musical has been adapted to reflect the unique Pacific flavour of Auckland.

“The unique thing about the cast is that each of them has a strong personal connection to bullying, either as a bully or someone who has experienced bullying.  During the audition, we asked the performers to share their thoughts on bullying and we were blown away by their personal experiences,“ Lisa says.

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