Since 2014 Reconciliation South Australia and ActNow Theatre have delivered a program called Generation of Change, designed to give school students and teachers the opportunity to explore the impacts of racism as well as how to prevent it.The day-long program includes a theatre element where students can express their ideas and feelings through performance. Small discussion groups and teacher learning sessions, facilitated by Reconciliation SA, give students and teachers opportunity to explore individual experiences of racism, ways to respond to racism and what needs to change.Margaret Lovell, Education Project Officer at Reconciliation SA the program has received positive feedback from students and teachers. One student said the program gave them a deeper understanding of how your actions can affect others.“The performances helped me to understand that things you say can be very hurtful to people even if you don’t realise it.”Teacher feedback included how the experience will impact their future teaching.“I think it has had a huge impact upon me personally and I hope that this impact will spread as I share the lessons learnt today with our school. It was valuable hearing Nathan (May’s) personal experiences because they are undeniable, can’t be ignored. Communication is the key to changing the mindset of racism.”Musician and mentor Nathan May plays a big part on the day by sharing his story and playing an original song about his struggles with racism and mental health.“As part of the Generation of Change, I go into the schools and tell my story. I talk about how I have been affected by racism and had mental health issues and how I have overcome that through music.”Mr May said the program is important to combat racism in schools and help kids overcome their challenges.“There are a lot of kids who when they hear my story, they can relate to me, especially the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids. A lot of them have similar stories and they open up to me and tell me about their schooling and the bullying they experience.”Mr May said that Generation of Change allows teachers to understand what is happening at their school.“When I hear some of the kid’s stories, I can then go and talk to their liaison officer or teacher and often they didn’t even know it was happening. I think that programs like these help because it can bring insight to both students and teachers and it’s good to face these problems. It’s pretty amazing really” he said.Ms Lovell said the program is open to all schools.“We would love to hear from schools who haven’t yet experienced the Generation of Change program, we are keen to keep working with teachers and students to identify and discuss racism and make important steps towards reconciliation.”The success and impact of the Generation of Change program has been recognised on a national scale, receiving two consecutive finalist nominations for the Australian Rights Commission ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ Award in 2017 and 2018.The program will be running during term 1 and 2 this year and is currently seeking schools who wish to participate.For more information contact Margaret Lovell, Education Project Officer, Reconciliation SA on 08 8429 2653 or email margaret@reconciliationsa.org.au

By Kaliah Alice