Woonona dance school The PROJECT by Ebony Austin and six of its students are attracting national attention with a dance routine on video launching an anti-bullying campaign Australia-wide.
The dance on Facebook and YouTube was choreographed by Ebony Austin earlier this year. She and the teenagers who perform in the video did not need to look far for inspiration.
View the video: The PROJECT by Ebony Austin anti-bullying video
A girl who used to come to the studio lost her life to suicide as a result of bullying in 2017.
Being a member of the PROJECT family that added to Ms Austin’s quest to create more awareness about the devastating impact bullying can have.
The 2017 Wollongong Young Citizen of the Year was bullied herself as a child. But despite that went on to be a school captain and a member of the Student Representative Council.
When she heard about an international anti-bullying campaign being run the the Diana Award in the United Kingdom she decided to do something in Australia. She had already been working on the choreography for the dance in the video.
“When we showed some of the parents and teachers they said “this is eye opening”. So I looked online and reached out to the Diana Award. I told them I had choreographed a dance and sent them the video and asked if they would like me to use it to help spread the awareness.”
The reply was they would love her to use it and bring the anti-bullying campaign to Australia.
Parents and others in the Wollongong community who have seen the video have commented on the courage and bravery of Ms Austin and her students.
“The dance is one we also showcase and perform at events and competitions”.
Ms Austin loves choreographing routines that mean something. “Bullying is something very close to my heart because I was bullied. I still have haters. I feel this is a very important topic. I want to spread the awareness especially with the younger generation.”
Violet Brighton, 13, is in the video and said the other dancers in her performance group were a similar age but attended different schools.
She said they all had either experienced bullying themselves or seen the impact on someone they know and wanted to do something to raise awareness and make a stand against it.
“When Ebony came up with the idea of doing a dance about bullying I was really excited. have been bullied as well,” she said.
“Most of us have had experiences with bullying and when Ebony shared this idea it was really touching to know we could do a dance about it to promote awareness.”
Violet’s mother Dr Renee Brighton described Ms Austin as “an inspirational young woman who raised over $12,000 for various charities last year despite just starting up her own business and being in the first year of operation”.
“She’s already donated over $3,000 to UNICEF this year.”
Dr Brighton said as a mother of two daughters and a senior mental health nursing lecturer she could not speak highly enough of what Ms Austin does for teenage girls at her dance studio.
“I’m also President of the Roo Theatre Company & we always try to create an atmosphere where bullying is not tolerated in any form,” she said.
The video lasts about 90 seconds and us based on a poem called To This Day by Shane Koyczan.
The dancers performed the choreographed routine at KidsFest Shellharbour recently and had dozens of people come up to tell them how good and powerful it was.
“It is very different to just an instrumental routine. You actually have to watch and listen,” Ms Austin said.