Earlier this year the Canadian Women’s Foundation rolled out it’s first-ever Girls Voice Video Contest. They asked girls across Canada to create videos about issues affecting you and other girls in your schools and community. Not only did you all answer the foundation’s call but you all rocked the house with videos that vividly showcased your voice. We received some of the best youth-produced films tackling social issues such as relational bullying and violence. You told us just how important confidence is to you and better yet reminded your viewers how they too can tap up on their confidence when it’s running low. Some of you took on the “establishment” with sophisticated critiques of media: the remarkable “access” it’s given us in our everyday lives and the equally remarkable costs of technology on our self and society such as the false sense of instant gratification it can give us or the trickery of forgetting that Facebook friends might not exactly be an authentic marker of our true “friendships.” You also spoke up and out on the necessity of mentorship and guidance in your lives.
Each video the Canadian Women’s Foundation received proved one unshakable thing: that girls have powerful voices! Not only are girls actively aware of and discussing issues of concern in their lives but you all are producing innovative problem-solving solutions too. In a society where we are being inundated with competing, contradictory messages about what it means to “be” a girl, “act like” a girl, “think” like a girl, “dream” like a girl, it is more important than ever that girls realize these illusionary boxes are meant to be burst through!
What is Girls Voice? Girls Voice is the recognition of girls’ ability to think and act critically as socially, emotionally, intellectually, and creatively engaged leaders and effective change makers. Girls Voice recognizes that girls are all wonderfully diverse with different skill sets all of which are necessary for social justice! Whether you are a talker, a listener, whether you are a public activist who is often at the center loudly “seen and heard” or one of quiet strength who works behind the scenes and makes change at the sides of justice you are Girls Voice! You are today’s youth leaders and tomorrow’s world leaders. The Canadian Women’s Foundation is so proud of each and every one of you for your commitment to this contest, your demonstration of team work, and your willingness to share your knowledge so generously with your viewers.
As with any contest, it’s always difficult to select “winners” especially when every submission was so passionately dedicated to their category with such strong messaging. That’s where criteria really help support fairness https://canadianwomen.org/blog/hey-girls-let-your-voice-be-heard. Therefore the winners below represent videos that tackled categories with best clarity and concise focus, creative content and cinematographic choices, and those that demonstrated youth leadership through their youth-centered, primarily youth-created videos.
So join in the celebration. Here are your Girls Voice Video Contest 2014 winners!
Grand Prize Winner
Against the musical backdrop of English indie rock band Florence and the Machine, our Girls Voice Video Contest Grand Prize Winners hailing from Denman Island’s Hornby & Denman Community hit it out of the park with their outstanding video “Speak Out, Write Out, Laugh Out” — a super fun, engaging, and utterly inspiring take on confidence. In this video the girls are tackling questions that quite frankly many of us adults don’t think about (but should!) on a regular basis: “What does confidence mean to you?” “What makes you feel confident?” and most poignantly, “What makes you feel better if you aren’t feeling good about yourself or what’s going on around you?” I cannot stress the importance of coping strategies to our health and wellbeing. While coping isn’t singlehandedly a solution, it’s what keeps you going until you’ve gotten the right supports in place to help you address whatever challenges you may be facing. Wise well beyond their years, these girls used brilliant colours, cool outdoor settings, writing, and visual arts to share their abundant wisdom. According to the girls, “Confidence is not being afraid to voice your opinion, to stand up and speak up for yourself or someone else…and the best part about being confident is instilling confidence in others around you.” The girls even turn the idea of ‘fashion trends’ on its head by reminding us that confidence is also about wearing the clothes you like whether or not they’re “in.” All too often kids at school are subject to body-based bullying and if it’s not linked to size, shape, or weight discrimination it is almost always tied to picking on clothing choices. With designer and pop culture influences increasingly invading school communities, this places unrealistic pressures on both children and their caregivers. Check this video out and we hope you reflect on your confidence factor!
Media Category Winner: The Best & Worst of Media
I can guarantee you if Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, authors of the world-renowned book Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, Canada’s own Shari Graydon, author of such titles as In Your Face: The Culture of Beauty and You and Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know, and MIT Professor Sherry Turkle author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other see Annie’s (Tulk Productions) video “Daily Habits of Media Users: The Best & Worst of Media,” our Media Category Winner, they will all jump out of their seats into glorious handstands! Annie’s provocative video challenges us to consider how media, in all its forms, influence our lives, our hobbies, our bodies, our sleeping patterns, and how we view or don’t view the world around us. Firstly, her video grabs you (well, some of us!) instantly with that classic ‘80s Mario Brothers arcade game soundtrack. Then we are taken through a ‘day in the life’ of two youth: one who is attached at the hip with technology and the other who prefers the leafed page of a book and hanging out on a sidewalk without their iPhone. Annie’s creative and brilliantly deliberate use of the Split Screen Editing technique further embodies the dilemma of the universal debate: is technology saving us or is it sinking us? Black and white being oh so boring, we are left to ponder the grey area. Annie’s work is a timely and critical addition to any conversation in media literacy, technology & the self and though we don’t have the pleasure of hearing Annie’s voice in this video, her message roars volumes!
Mentor Category Winner: VB Games
“You’re the next contestant…come on down!” The Price is Right, Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and the list continues… If any show can get my full attention it’s the hilarious antics of a good old game show! North York Community House’s Village Bloggurls (VB)’s “VB Games,” our Mentor Category Winner did just that. Mentorship is one of the most pivotal ways we can give back to our youth today and these girls don’t hesitate to share through this role-play just how important a mentor is to them. From being funny, caring, helpful, and kind to always being there for them strong and fearless, our girls are looking to us for guidance and encouragement so they may continue to dream big and boldly. With one of the largest cast ensembles of any of the videos we received for the Girls Voice Video Contest, the Village Bloggurls were able to stay focused, through all the funny shenanigans, getting their voices on mentorship heard loud and clear. Two teams: Team 1 and Team 2 who will win the game? Who will have the right answers to the questions? Check out this video to find out. I’ve been mentored by many strong female adult leaders and today I mentor strong female youth. It’s the gift that really does keep on giving.
Confidence Category Winner: Thena the Confidence Fairy
Kingston’s Big Brothers, Big Sisters Paige gives voice to the animated clay characters, Fancy the Guinea Pig, Skylar the clay girl and Thena the clay fairy in our Confidence Category winning video, “Thena the Confidence Fairy.” This video demonstrates the power of a positive bystander in most ‘bully vs. target of bullying behaviour’ situations. For Skylar, her bystander is the confidence fairy. When we see bullying happening we have two choices that carry a world of impact: we can laugh along and do nothing or we can try to support the person through words of encouragement. Wouldn’t we all like to have a Confidence Fairy? My favourite part is when Skylar has her final conversation with Fancy and lets her know that she is not ‘gross’ and is no different from Fancy. Fancy, like most bullies, appears baffled and doesn’t know how to respond to Skylar’s newfound confidence. Food for thought: it is not primarily up to the target to do something about bullying. We have to work as a collective! If we lay the responsibility on the shoulders of the target to “get over” or “ignore” it what we are doing is suggesting that bullying is an individual problem when in fact it’s a social problem. We are all responsible.
Violence Category Winner: The Bully/ STOP MOTION
Anchored by one of pop music’s 2013 anthems Sara Bareilles’ Brave, YWCA Cambridge’s Mya takes on “the bully” in this thought-provoking video “Stop Motion.” Mya concisely communicates through her clay animated character Wendy just how torturous bullying can be. Not only is Mya’s video an excellent tool for Anti-Bullying Education & Healthy Relationships but her work also speaks to the growing issue of relational violence — the sometimes covert, psychologically aggressive bullying our girls and increasingly more boys are experiencing. Wendy is starting her first day of school at the “School for the Talented” (the school title: such clever poetic irony). Wendy is approachable and eager to make friends but instead is met with exclusion and ridicule by a group of girls. Wendy’s daily experiences begin to transform once she gets connected to someone who is kind, sharing, and interested in getting to know her. Before Wendy knows it she’s got a community of people who are ready and willing to support her in her fight against bullying. With key messages like, “Stand up for the ones who cannot stand up for themselves,” “It’s okay to be ‘different’,” “Emotional scars are left whenever a bully comes along,” and “Be the change,” Mya’s video is a call to action. Let the change begin!