Here is what people are saying about Maria’s Stop the Bullying project:
- Health Professionals
St. FX enjoys groovy pep talk from local musician
Students at St. Francis Xavier high school in Riverside South were feeling groovy last week when local musician Maria Hawkins visited for “Get in the Groove,” an hour of straight talk about how to get the most out of life.
Jazzy songs, silly jokes and pure camp took Grade 7 to 9 students along for a highly participatory ride Tuesday afternoon in the school gym. By the end of the hour, about 50 students had been to the front to sing, dance and stand up against bullying. Grade 7 student Caleb Mills showed off his air guitar skills, eighth grader Simon Bellamy manned a very real set of drums and even principal Mike Curry belted out a few lines of a motivational version of “Taking Care of Business”.
Hawkins said her program, which she’s been running for about five years in the Ottawa area, is meant to show kids that they control their future, and are responsible for themselves.
“They’re in charge of their destiny. They get all caught up in the drama and they forget why they’re here,” she said. “They’re here to get a good education so they can have a good life, so they can have a successful life. And sometimes it takes someone on the outside to give them that nudge.”
Part of her program includes a “stop the bullying” component where she brings more and more students up front to take a stand against bullying.
Hawkins, who now lives in the east end, said she plans to expand her program outside the city.
“I decided 10 years ago to take a leadership program so I can better serve the community, and I realized that my fit is really through music and delivering these motivational presentations to kids. Now I want to take it across the country,” she said.
Ottawa This Week – South
Whole lot of energy with The Blues Lady
Hawkins has students hopping
Most speakers are hard-pressed to maintain the attention of students for an hour, but Maria ‘the Blues Lady’ Hawkins did. The Ottawa musician and motivational speaker had students at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School engaged in song and dance, and offered solutions, with the students’ help, to questions about succeeding and overcoming obstacles. The major obstacle she addressed during the May 5 presentation was bullying.
Bullying didn’t become a focus of her 70-minute presentation for 18 minutes.
But when it did, the 50-some-year-old mother and grandmother didn’t waste any time making her point.
A significant number of students’ hands were raised with questions like: How many like Cadbury chocolate bars? Who’s had an embarrassing moment? And how many have seen bullying happen in the school? She also told the students she’d give them the answer to a few questions, then supply the questions.
“I am,” was the answer. The questions pertained to who was responsible for doing one’s homework, who’s responsible for you being successful, and who’s responsible for doing something when they witness bullying?
Keys to overcoming bullying include resilience, she said. “It’s not how high you climb, but how high you bounce after things happen to you,” said Hawkins, who later told The Mercury she was badly bullied as a child. Now she wants to get the message out that everyone can play a role to resist bullies and bullying, including letting others know about it when it happens, and speaking up with comments such as, “I don’t like the way you’re talking to me.”
She also reminded the students and staff that people often have to learn to distinguish between bothersome incidents and incidents that don’t need to be bothersome.
“Sometimes big trouble isn’t big trouble, but just a little issue,” said Hawkins. She offered a good example by holding up one of the shoes of teacher Lindsay Cunningham.
Yes, she’d taken the shoe, but she noted that no real damage was done. But bullying is another matter, she said.
“If you’re going to talk about solving this problem, say ‘hoo-rah’,” advised Hawkins.
Then she added: “Everyone knows how to stop bullying. You stop bullying by letting people know it’s happening.” When you see people being cruel, idiotic or hurtful to others, it’s time to stand up. Seconds later, she had the group joining in to sing the song, Stand By Me.
Several times during her talk, Hawkins had the students on their feet, clapping, singing and dancing, or intrigued by quick games.
She also reminded the audience that bullies don’t feel good about themselves, and that they need help too. As is often the case with bullies, we sometimes lose track of where we’re headed in life, and require some direction, and therefore a helpful dose of self-confidence, said Hawkins.
Teachers deserve the support of the students, too, she added. “They are your partners in your success, so treat them as though they are your partners in your success.” Standing up to bullies isn’t always easy, suggested Hawkins.
But she sure got the students’ attention when she pretended to pick her nose in slow motion. She compared the action to bullying: “Everyone knows what you’re doing. Yeah, it’s disgusting. Bullying makes me sick to my stomach.”
So, said Hawkins, tell others that bullying is happening; or stand up to the bully with statements like: “Why would you talk to me like that?” You have power, so use it constructively to eliminate bullying, advised Hawkins.
The presentation, which was partly sponsored by TD Canada Trust, featured Hawkins and Greg Szepietowski, who played a guitar-synthesizer. The same day, she did a similar presentation at Admaston Public School.
Students hear anti-bullying message
By Michelle McCarthy for Trentonian
April 25th 2012
With her powerful voice and passionate message to stop bullying, motivational speaker and musician Maria Hawkins grasped the attention of a full auditorium at Prince Charles Public School Tuesday afternoon.
By the end of the year, Hawkins will have toured to 55 schools to deliver her ‘Stop the Bullying’ music driven, motivational presentation in an effort to bring attention to the effects of bullying and the steps students can take to eliminate it. For Hawkins, Prince Charles marked the 45th school she’s travelled to so far this year.
“During the 20 plus years I’ve been providing music and motivational programs for children, I have seen first-hand that the issue of bullying has become quite devastating for some,” Hawkins said.
Her years of working in the school system have definitely enlightened Hawkins enough to be considered an expert on the subject she speaks to. She said she began this program by bringing together groups of children who had been bullied and working with them on how to improve their self-confidence. In turn Hawkins said it helped them to see that they could influence the outcome of situations that before may have seemed hopeless. From this she wanted to do more.
This year Hawkins celebrates 25 years of working with children and youth. With her caring charismatic personality the impact her efforts have had is evident from her list of achievements. To name a few from a long list, she won the YM-YWCA Woman of Distinction award, was recognized in 2012 by the HER Foundation as an ‘Amazing Woman’ and also received the United Way Community Builder award.
“In today’s school system bullying is a real issue and we are always trying to find new ways to convey positive messages to our students on how to put a stop to it,” said Susan Davies, curriculum co-ordinator with Hastings and Prince Edward County Board Of Education. “The presentations message is vital to students and was so well received thanks to Maria’s entertaining and energetic delivery.”
Hawkins believes the Stop the Bullying presentation, combining music, humour, art and interactive role play, really helps students to clearly see what acceptable behaviour looks like at school and home.
“Many times during my almost 25 years of working with children, they often don’t realize that what they’re doing is considered bullying,” said Hawkins. “There still children and depend on us to teach them, so by explaining it or showing it to them in a way they get, they’ll understand how to identify bullying and intervene in a proactive and proper way.”
The combination of presentation techniques such as the simulation role play, guided by the passionate and beautiful voice of Hawkins seemed to captivate the group and promoted audience participation.
Hawkins was raised in CFB Borden from age six to 15 before her step-father was transferred to CFB Rockcliffe. Both Hawkins and her mother are former reservists.
The school board brought her to Prince Charles as her performance “supports character development of students who are members of armed forces families.”
Her trip here to Trenton was sponsored by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Members with Disabilities Action Committee, National Capital region (NCR), which is the first time ever that the Public Service Alliance Group has sponsored a stop bullying campaign. NCR chairperson Patricia McGrath was on hand during the Prince Charles performance to lend support.
“The effort put forth by Maria on this and everything she does is beyond amazing,” said McGrath. “When I first met her she was educating a group in Ottawa on the beauty of diversity and when I approached our board with her plans we all agreed it was a great opportunity.”
McGrath said as a child she experienced bullying at a time when little took place in the school system to prevent it and offered up praise to Hawkins for the work she continues to do, especially since for the most part, Hawkins fundraises and pays for her motivational work by herself.
This is only further proof of her commitment to creating social change. It’s this commitment and sense of responsibility, Hawkins said that has propelled her through financial and other hardships that have come as a result of her funding this work. However Hawkins strongly feels everything has been worth it.
She just hopes that students walk away from the presentation understanding that bullying has no place in their future, friends or family and that under no circumstances should it be tolerated.
“I hope I’ve given them the knowledge they need so that next time, whether a by-stander or the bullied, they know how to do their own part to stop the cycle of bullying.”
For more information on the Stop the Bullying campaign, or Hawkins motivational programs and music,
visitwww.stopthebullying.ca .##Taken from Quinte SNAP Newspaper
Stop the Bullying Presentation
Maria Hawkins, the Blues Lady presented “Stop the Bullying” in April 2012 to over 300 students at Prince Charles Public School in Trenton. The program was funded by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Members with Disabilities Action Committee, National Capital Region to help support students from Canada’s Armed Forces families. An energy-filled hour-long performance had students dancing and singing as Maria led them in an interactive presentation designed to help students understand the dynamics of bullying and how they can take control of their own lives and happiness.
Jack Donohue School Council
After 33 years in the teaching profession, specifically teaching instrumental music to elementary children, last night’s Get Into the Blues music concert at Robert Hopkins Public School was a more than memorable experience, one of those definite highlights that I feel blessed to have experienced in the last few weeks of my career in education.
Thanks to your creative genius and the guiding support of the entire Robert Hopkins teaching staff, our 340 children experienced what many children only dream of. Through music, specifically the blues, they were engaged in the creative process, learning first hand that music could be fun, music could inspire and music could definitely touch you emotionally.
Last nights hugely successful culminating concert is also largely attributed to you. Your humorous, high energy workshops that each homeroom class received during Education week, taught the children the basic structure of the blues, how to sing the blues and in some cases, how to create the blues, as in the grade 5’s creation of Ode to Mrs. Vanderkamp, their tribute to their teacher. Equally impressive was your ability to weave a motivational message, relevant to each class, into your high-energy performance. The end result was a standing ovation audience and more importantly, a stage full of children inspired and confident as a direct result of the musical experience they had shared with you!
In this vein, we are very excited at the prospect of engaging in another music project with you. The idea of teaching our children to create their own original songs with a focus on character development as well as leadership skills would meld beautifully with on-going School Improvement Plans, not to mention building community with all stake holders. Last
night demonstrated the very obvious sense of spirit within our school, spirit that needs to be captivated in possibly a school song, a shout, a school chant. I can think of no better artist than Maria Hawkins to make this happen.
Once again, thank you for all you do for children through your music. Robert Hopkins staff, students and community look forward with great anticipation to future projects that would bring you and your message back to our school.
To Whom it May Concern:
I would like to introduce Maria Hawkins to schools in the Renfrew area and invite students and teachers to explore the opportunities she offers with her entertaining and interactive program “Blues 4 Kids”.
Maria delivers this program through music and stage presentation in a fun format to all grades and touches on issues we all seek to address: racial tolerance, anti-bullying, motivating students and developing confidence and leadership within our schools. Schools wishing to go beyond presentations can opt to work with Maria to have followup activities that involve class writing assignments, discussions and leadership initiatives.
QEPS arranged the program with Maria through MASC at a nominal cost. Students in our gymnasium were thoroughly entertained and engaged in her performance and many of the activities.
We welcome the role Maria Hawkins and her program “Blues 4 Kids” can play in addressing some of the issues we are all dealing with in our schools.
Maria can be reached at 613-292-1283 to discuss her program and the activities that best suit your current school needs and goals.
Queen Elizabeth Public School
Subject: Thank you!
Good morning, Maria!
I just wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to you while the experience is still fresh in my mind. What a WONDERFUL concert last night! I think everyone in the room enjoyed it, and everyone I spoke to last night and around the school this morning agrees… you are AMAZING. You truly engaged those kids, and I could tell they all loved it. Even our boys, who are normally still and uncomfortable on stage, were smiling and dancing. So thank you!
I really must thank Jackie for connecting us with you. Jackie and John were all smiles at the end of the evening. I’m always amazed by Jackie’s energy and spirit, and I can tell see that the two of you are cut from the same cloth in that respect. Your sense of duty to serve the community… it’s inspiring. So thank you for that, as well.
Subject: Re: Wonderful experience.
I just returned from a fabulous evening of Blues singing at my daughter’s school, Robert Hopkins Public School. My daughter is in Grade 5 and she has been singing around the house for the last 2 weeks, every since Maria came to the school to teach her magic of music to all the kids there. You could see it on all their faces when they were singing “ they were having a blast!! The kids were all smiling and dancing and shaking and having fun and believe me, that sure does put a huge smile on my face when I see the kids so happy like that.
A great big THANK YOU goes out to Maria Hawkins for doing what she does best “ reaching the musical soul of all the children she teaches. I even heard some other parents saying that normally, their child would not feel comfortable singing in front of an audience, yet Maria showed them all how to just have fun and to feel the music, and they did just that!! Job well done Maria!! Thank you!!!!!!
Victoria Turner (mother of Haylee)
Parent from St. John 23rd in Arprior ON
My kindergarten-aged daughter participated in programming you conducted at John XX III school in Arnprior a few weeks ago and LOVED it. She continues to talk it about it and reveals new details about who was the “witch” and who was the “princess” etc. every couple of days. I just wanted to let you know that you have made a positive, lasting impression. Continued success to you!
Maria once again, for the 3rd or is it the 4th time? you wowed both the staff and students at my school, ALC, in Stittsville. Not only did they enjoy your performance but you gave them so much food for thought according to the feedback I got for the rest of the week. I was struck by how much the teachers got out of your show. “Inspirational” was the word used the most often… In fact, some of them want to suggest that you be invited to give a workshop at our big Federation P.D. day next February. I’ve invited countless performers and artists to this school over the past 8 years and none of them ever get the response you do. Wish you could take that to the bank… And don’t worry, when I retire, they will still keep inviting you back!
To whom it may concern,
My son’s school was lucky enough to have Maria bring her program to their school. Colin had seen Maria perform before and was very excited that she was coming. My son is a very shy individual and doesn’t enjoy being singled out. So you could imagine my surprise when he came home and told me he had to get up with Maria and tell the class how special he was, and he had a great time doing it.
We have struggled as parents trying to build his self esteem, and just recently enrolled him in karate to help with that. In todays times parents are so busy with working to make ends meet that kids are not top priority, I feel that it is important to instill self esteem and self respect in our children and it will help them make better decisions in life.
As a parent I feel grateful that my son and his classmates were able to have participated in Maria’s program, and I know it is an essential tool my son will take with him through life and a memory he will hold dear.
My favourite Canadian blues artist is Ottawa-based Maria Hawkins, also known as the Blues Lady. The first time I heard Maria was when she spontaneously sang O Canada to kick off a Leadership Ottawa Program. Wow! Her rendition gave us all goose bumps! Okay, that’s not bluesy, you may say.
But wait. Maria has pipes, passion and compassion and she uses her blues music to entertain and to make a difference in her community. Monday nights you can find her at the Rainbow a blues venue in the Market area in Ottawa. There she belts out old favourites and songs she has authored. Simply put, she is fantastic. The pipes and the passion are in play here.
Now for the compassion. Maria uses her talent to help physically and mentally disabled persons– both adults and children. I was privileged to see her at work. The way she shares her joy and energy with these groups brings tears to the eyes. Parents, friends and families were blown away at how she managed to get this group of people to put on a show. Maria helps her community on an ongoing basis– she also introduced blues to the schools in Ottawa. She is active in the Arts community in Ottawa and we are all the better for it.
So, here is a Canadian blues artist who may not have national recognition, but who is well known in her home town, entertains wonderfully and makes a lasting difference for the less advantaged in our community. She gets one big vote from me and anyone who has seen her at work I am sure.
Bay Street,Ottawa K1R 7T2
Letter of Recommendation
Maria’s generous contribution to my Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare class at Carleton University was outstanding. She combined musical performance and educational material in a ‘one of its kind’ and innovative way. The course is offered to 350 students in-class and via instructional television. As part of the course, I try to instil to the students the importance of understanding the lived experience of people who use social services in Canada. Maria was able to bring this out in a striking fashion. It was a class no one will forget.
Her unique combination of entertainment and education produced a response in the class that I have never seen. It was exactly what the students
needed as they prepared for final exams. Comments from the students after the class were all positive.
I sincerely thank you for your excellent performance and teachings.
Steven F. Hick, Ph.D.
School of Social Work
Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive,
Ottawa, ON Canada K1S 5B6
Regional Children’s Mental Health Centre Royal Ottawa Hospital
An exciting new dimension was added to the Regional Children’s Mental Health Centre, Children’s Therapeutic Weekend Camp when we invited Maria Hawkins and her band. The engaging performance by Maria Hawkins was dynamic and empowering. Managing to garner participation from everyone in the room, Maria worked her magic. With Maria’s guidance and support, the children left behind fears of musical instruments, microphones and performing and they became immersed in the joy and freedom of music. We are looking forward to having Maria and her band join us at our next camp.
Signed by Recreation Therapist,
Child and Youth Counselor and