‘We need to be the change we want to see’
TATAMAGOUCHE - To the sound of drumbeats and the happy chants of young voices they marched and skipped in the name of inclusion, individuality and diversity.
And then they gathered – more than 400 elementary and high school students alike – at the Creamery Square to listen to poems and songs about peace, love and acceptance for all.
“Just a nice day of peace and happiness,” said North Colchester High School student Jill McMillan of the second annual Let Me Be Me rally in Tatamagouche, held on June 6.
“I just think it’s a really great day for celebrating diversity and the differences we all have,” she said, after performing the Beatles classic – Let It Be.
McMillan said it was also nice to see all the levels of students – from elementary through to high school –participating together.
The Let Me Be Me rally is intended to celebrate the uniqueness and individuality within the local community, which Grade 5 student and fellow performer Daniel Smith described as a “good message” to impart on everyone.
“It is just a really good day to think of the differences between other people and how we’re all just the same in a way.”
Leslie Mullings, a Grade 3 teacher at Tatamagouche Elementary and one of the co-founders and organizers of the rally, said that is precisely the message the students are trying to communicate, among themselves and the community at large.
“It’s to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of our community,” he said, to the background sounds of children’s voices coming from the stage.
“I think too much, especially when you get to high school and middle school, there’s too many times when you are being judged and you just don’t get to be yourself. And I think that’s what this is about.
“People are different and I think that’s what makes our community unique is that everybody’s different. Because if everyone was the same it wouldn’t be as unique as it is,” he said.
And Mullings said, he believes the impact of that message is growing among the student population, given that the participation level has increased “ten fold” over last year.
“We’re trying to take the negative connotation away from being different and that it is something positive to celebrate,” he said.
“We need to be the change we want to see,” Mullings said. “Students have stepped up and they’re running the show. And I think that’s what makes it so powerful. The youth are teaching the elders.”