Ottawa anti-bullying advocate nabs diamond jubilee medal
Posted Dec 20, 2012 By Jennifer McIntosh
EMC news – Maria Hawkins is well-known for her musical stylings, but she received a nod on Dec. 14 for the work she does in the community.
The anti-bullying advocate received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and a call from the office of the Lieutenant Governor.
“I was blown away when I got the call,” she said brandishing the medal. “I burst into tears.”
Hawkins, who lives in the east end, performs musical workshops for community groups and local schools. The workshops are motivational and centre on anti-bullying messages and character education.
Hawkins also helped to develop the Blues in Schools program. Each spring visiting artists and educators and local musicians deliver the Blues in the Schools program to thousands of students in Ottawa schools. It teaches Ottawa school kids about the history of the genre and black history. But seven years ago she dedicated her work life to helping kids deal with the pressures of bullying and the reality of growing up in the cyber age.
She has also created a version of the workshop to stop the bullying for adults with physical and developmental disabilities.
While Hawkins has received other awards such as the YWCA Women of Distinction award in 2004, she said she is happy to receive the kudos.
The singer-turned-community activist has travelled a tough road of her own and shares some of her experiences with students while she delivers her messages with a series of snappy, up-beat tunes.
On Dec. 3, Hawkins performed with Latin Breeze at the Nepean Sportsplex. The event was called Fighting for Our Dignity: International Day for Persons with Disabilities. She said the event – which is a fundraiser for her Stop the Bullying program – was a success.
“It’s a great program and I am really committed to it,” she said, showing off a letter from a Cobden District Public School student thanking her for the show.
Hawkins is currently looking for sponsors to bring the show out to more schools. It’s only $200 for the workshop. More information is available at stopthebullying.ca.