Beating Bullying with Project Rockit and P-Rock Online
Launched in 2006 by Melburnian sisters Rosie and Lucy Thomas, Project Rockit (new window) aims to tackle youth bullying and build leadership skills. Their new e-learning resource, P-Rock Online (new window), has just launched and hopes to continue the success of Project Rockit. I spoke with the Thomas sisters about Project Rockit's past and its exciting future.
Why did you set up Project Rockit?
Lucy: We saw bullying happening but didn't always know what to do. I was only given three strategies to deal with bullying: ignore it, walk away, or tell the teachers. We wanted to set up a program that empowered students to develop real strategies and skills to stand up so they can make a difference. We thought there's so much more out there that's relevant coming from young people. We just saw that opportunity and went for it.
Who's involved in Project Rockit?
Rosie: Project Rockit was started in 2006 by just the two of us. We were going into schools and running face-to-face workshops originally to all school-aged students. We quickly realised that it was having a fantastic impact and we needed more people. Adam came on board a few years ago. He's brought so many amazing and different things we never could have. And now we're really excited to actually say we're on the hunt for a new recruit.
Lucy: With this new P-Rock Online, we've partnered with another organisation called En Masse. We definitely don't have the experience to put up an online e-learning experience. That's when these guys came in and they brought their wealth of experience of developing human rights training programs. There are two strings to what we do now: online and face-to-face.
What does the P-Rock Online website offer to young people?
Rosie: Through P-Rock Online we are allowed to connect with students who have a basic internet connection at their schools. Prior to this there were so many students we'd hear about who just wouldn't have access to youth-friendly and relatable role models.
Lucy: There are just not a lot of places where young people can equip themselves with strategies about bullying that they're confident in using. We see the flipside of bullying as leadership. So P-Rock Online is made up of four 30-minute e-learning experiences: Bullying, digital citizenship, communication skills and personal leadership.
What's the response you've had from young people?
Rosie: We've done 13 schools in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. We also have over 200 students on P-Rock Online. The number one response we've been getting is that it's relevant and youth-friendly. The students feel like it's a safe kind of place to learn and find it fun.
What's it like running an organisation when you know you're tackling such big issues?
Lucy: At times it floors us and at times you feel on top of the world. It's an incredibly privileged position to be in, to work with young people addressing the issues that do matter the most.
Rosie: People do often think that running this organisation can be really negative for us. Over the course of the last 6 or 7 years we actually get to see the young people at their best everyday. We get to see young people be leaders and get to change positively. It's extremely rewarding.
How do you decide what gets put up on the website?
Lucy: It's been very structured and there are a lot of elements in each module that contribute to the structure. It's structured, but it also includes a lot of creativity. We don't just plod through the structure - we take it through a journey.
When you were growing up, was there anything similar to Project Rockit?
Rosie: The closest thing I can think of is I had one amazing teacher. The worst thing as a young person, I could think of so many times especially around the 15-16-year-old mark where I just felt really misunderstood.
Lucy: We adopt a show-not-tell approach, which means we really avoid standing in front of the room and talking. We'd rather students come up with the messages themselves. We'd say that's directly born from our own school experiences.
Five years from now, where do you see Project Rockit going?
Rosie: Taking over the world (laughs).
Lucy: What we wanted to achieve is an organisation that can adapt, bend, and grow with the people that are part of it. In five years' time, I think Project Rockit will be representative of the personalities that are a part of it. For us that means it's going to continue to run by young people, for young people and adapt to the identity of youth culture.
Reviews written by Kevin
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