Tami Johnson, Program Specialist and District School Counselor, Cajon Valley Union School District
Students in the Cajon Valley Union School District are learning how to stand up to bullying with the help of a hands-on play called Safa’s Story. The play is inspired by the true story of a girl who moved from Zimbabwe to San Diego when she was in 5th grade. The play is based on Safa’s real experiences of being bullied and teased because of the color of her skin and for being different.
Through an interactive experience called Forum Theatre, students in the audience explore racism and bullying. In this type of theatre, students are literally pulled into the play to rewrite some of the most difficult scenes using improvisation. Students become one of the characters who face the bully and experiment with how they can put an end to the bullying.
Blindspot Collective, the San Diego organization that created the play, delivered 36 shows of Safa’s Story to approximately 3,000 students in Cajon Valley Union School District schools. More than 400 students had the chance to get up out of their seats to join the actors on stage.
"It felt good to express my feelings because I’ve been in that same situation and I never said anything,” said one student about their experience. “It felt good to express my feelings now."
Many of the students reported that they left the play having a better sense of empathy for the person who was harassed in the play. Surveys given after the play show 88% of students felt that everyone deserves equal treatment no matter who they are. Also, 87% of students felt that they knew what to do if someone was bullying them.
“It made me cry because I know a lot of people who go through the same thing,” said one Cajon Valley Union School District student after watching the play. “I like how in this show, they let the students change the ending so Safa can have a better ending.”
Catherine Schrock, creator of the play, masterfully weaves in music, story-telling, dialogue and improv to tell a powerful story and allow students to explore the possibility of empowering each other to end bullying.
A local news outlet joined the Safa's Story ensemble on March 5th, 2019 at Anza Elementary to cover the experience. Watch it Here!