Telling a kid they can’t speak for a whole day, is like telling them no more candy for the rest of their lives.
And yet, several students in Chilliwack took it upon themselves last week not to speak.
All for child rights awareness.
Ten schools in Chilliwack, at varying levels, participated in this year’s Vow of Silence campaign on Nov. 30.
Vow of Silence is an annual one-day campaign, organized by Free the Children, to raise awareness for children who are silenced by poverty, disease and exploitation.
For teacher John Davy, it was the most powerful day of his teaching career.
“It wasn’t that they weren’t allowed to speak, they chose not to speak,” said Davy, who teaches a Grade 5-6 class at Greendale elementary.
In Davy’s class, students used white boards, sticky notes, and basic sign language to communicate – but no spoken word. They wore lanyards telling people around them that they were choosing not to speak, that they were choosing to be silent for those who are forced to be silent. Some stuck tape on their lips with messages of a vow of silence, while others walked around the school with signs stating that they were silent for a reason.
Throughout the day, the young students live blogged their thoughts and feelings, and watched videos on child rights issues.
“And you could almost see the awareness in their eyes,” said Davy. “They were making the connection.”
Davy believes his students are at the “sweet spot” for learning about such global issues.
“For these kids, their world is their home,” he said. “They have so little personal experience beyond their family, their church, their school. But as they enter early adolescence, they begin to wonder about the world around them … this is the sweet spot, the right age for them to be learning about this.”
Other schools that took part in the Vow of Silence included Central elementary, Promontory elementary, A.D. Rundle middle, Vedder middle, Chilliwack middle, Mt. Slesse middle, G.W. Graham middle secondary, Chilliwack secondary and Sardis secondary.