Student inclusivity project goes viral

The 2018 Prairie Land Regional Division (PLRD) Inclusivity Project winners were announced in Hanna on Thurs. Dec. 19. From
the left, Thomas Chapin, Madeline Cuncannon and Taylor Davidson. Their project focused on the Inclusion of LGBTQ2S+ Individuals in Sport.
ECA Review/Submitted

It’s all in a hard days work for Madeline Cuncannon, Taylor Davidson and Thomas Chapin.

The group of three have officially won a two-week trip to Frankfurt, Germany after winning the Prairie Land Regional Division (PLRD) Inclusivity Project.

Beginning last year, a trip most likely to Europe lights a fire within students to do their best to inspire and interact with their school and community, focusing on inclusion of the LGBTQ2S+ individuals in sports.

Cuncannon came up with the idea of inviting former NFL player, singer and openly gay man, Esera Tuaolo to present to the school on this specific inclusion after seeing him speak at a WE conference.

He even performed on The Voice with ‘Team Blake’ last season.

“The project went amazingly well,” said Morrin School Principal Don Yavis. “These trips are highly motivational but as time goes on, it’s not about that trip. That trip is out the window and then all the sudden you’re just engulfed with what you are doing and how you feel about it.”

“It feels amazing to know that all my hard worked paid off and that I get to go to Germany,” said an excited Cuncannon.

They called Tuaolo who found the idea to be worth pursuing so the School agreed to cover hotel, meals, travel and pick him up at the airport when he arrived for two days.

On Fri. Dec. 7, Tuaolo spoke for an hour about his upbringing and the struggles he endured hiding his sexuality before singing a couple of inspirational songs called ‘This is Me’ and ‘Rise Up’.

After the keynote speech, the junior and senior high school students from both Morrin and Delia were split into different workshops centring around inclusivity.

Each workshop was an hour in length.

“They got to make their own groups and have some quite creative freedom to make their own poster that solidified a safe space where the poster was to be hung,” said Cuncannon.

The second workshop tackled homophobia in youth so the groups made a ‘homophobic spectrum’.

“All the kids got to get involved and place slanderous words on a scale as to how appropriate or inappropriate they were and then we made posters for alternative words to gay to put on our GSA [Gay- Straight Alliance] board at Morrin and Delia,” said Cuncannon.

Morrin School junior/senior high students create posters demonstrating safe spaces during a workshop on Fri. Dec. 7. One of the posters was hung in the Drumheller arena. ECA Review/Submitted

Later that evening, Cuncannon and Davidson alongside Drumheller Dragon’s Dudley the Dragon mascot and Tuaolo were given the honour of dropping the puck before the hockey game began.

Tuaolo also sang a couple of songs to the crowd during intermissions.

One of the safe space banners created by the workshop groups was hung in the Drumheller Memorial Arena. Cuncannon set up a Twitter account which subsequently blew up in terms of views, retweets, and likes on their project.

People have made contact from Ireland, USA and India on the post. The group even teamed up with another group from Minneapolis, Minnesota after the post was put up as they were doing an extremely similar idea.

“[Tuaolo] was all over social media about Morrin School and we were all over social media. Maddy set up a Twitter account and tweeted out the project information and stuff and it’s [the video] has had over 50,000 views in five weeks,” said Yavis. “So I’m pretty impressed with how this all went down.”

The project sparked an interest for students to begin a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) within Morrin School which is a student-led program allowing students a place to feel more comfortable.

Delia School started their’s a couple of years ago.

“I think it’s made those people even that much more comfortable in the school and one of the key messages Esera had was “You’re not alone” and I think that has really helped,” said Yavis. “It’s now allowing students in that community to feel safe and to come forward and to talk about it as opposed to being alone and hiding.”

Cuncannon added “It’s not even just the students who are affected. I feel like our project sparked a conversation in the adult world in Drumheller and Morrin and Delia. Instead of making fun of it and just having negative things to say, I think it’s opened their mind to what it truly is instead of stigma and I think that’s really cool that people are talking.”


Terri Huxley
ECA Review

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