Sudents from schools all over Chilliwack will be shutting up to make a statement this week.
On Thursday, April 18, they will join tens of thousands of others worldwide to raise awareness about children's rights issues through Free the Children's We Are Silent campaign.
Started in 2004, the annual event challenges kids to stay silent for 24 hours in solidarity with other children around the world who are forced into silence by poverty and exploitation.
"Many people find silence uncomfortable, unusual or even awkward and so the campaign plays into these feelings," Central elementary teacher Christopher Lister told the Times. "Silence creates questioning, and we want students, parents, guests and the public passing by at recess and lunch to witness this silence and ask questions."
Central will take up the We Are Silent challenge for the third time this year, and, although kids there have also decided to add fundraising to efforts this time around, the main goal is still to get people thinking about children's rights.
"Whether we raise $5 or $50, the message is that we're creating awareness and telling other people."
Kids are encouraged to do what they can. Some will stay silent for the whole 24 hours, while others (like one Central Grade 1 class) will do their best to hush up as a class for just one whole hour.
If keeping kids quiet for a higher cause sounds like a bit of a conflict of interest for teachers, though, Greendale Grade 5/6 teacher John Davy assured the Times the We Are Silent campaign isn't as easy on teachers as it sounds.
"It's harder to teach when they're quiet, not easier," he said. "I learned that last year."
Coming up with learning activities for a silent class can be a challenge, he said.
One thing that should help this year is that Free the Children organizers are encouraging kids to be silent in person but loud on social media in support of children's rights.
So Davy has come up with the "Tweet Seat," a computer station that will be set aside Thursday for students to express themselves on a school Twitter account.
At Mt. Slesse middle school, meanwhile, leadership students will embody the We Are Silent campaign's be-silent-in-person-but-loud-on-social-media motto by wearing brightly coloured tie-dye shirts that read "We are silent but loud."
The shirts will match fluorescent posters in the hallways depicting statistics about issues like child labour, child poverty, schooling and child soldiers.
Leadership teacher Sandi Rae won't know until Thursday exactly how many students at school will go silent this year, but last year about 70 took the challenge.
"It's a tough thing for a kid to do, especially a middle-school kid," she said, "so it definitely makes an impact."
- Visit the We Are Silent campaign at www.freethechildren.com.
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