Bears and Prayers – a student’s personal reflection


In response to the recent mass school shooting in Parkland Florida, Sancta Maria College students and teachers came together to show their support for those students and families impacted and to raise awareness about gun violence in the United States.


With the Gym’s bleachers filled with students and teachers and their beloved teddy bears, soothing Christian music drifted across the space and with inspirational speeches and prayers, the school Gymnasium was the place to be.


The event was known as “Bears and Prayers” as everyone was encouraged to bring their teddy bears from home. Students and teachers were treated to beautiful singing and a rendition of Bill Withers’ ‘Lean On Me’which indicated the College’s stand for unity and solidarity. This was sung by Year 12 students Daniella Joven, Maris Balili and Patrick De Vera as well as the junior choir.


Touching and motivating speeches on gun violence were delivered by senior students and prayers were shared with each other. It was a very successful event as everyone involved felt like they had played their part in letting those victims of the Florida shooting and people who also continue to be negatively affected by gun violence especially in the United States, know that they have support here from New Zealand and to know that they are not alone in this fight.


This initiative also hopefully helped to let leaders and people across the world know that youth are powerful in what they believe and that in order for the future to be brighter we must listen to the voices and perspectives of our Young people as they may make up around 40% of the population but are 100% of our future.


Year 12 student,Tanya Murray, who attended Bears and Prayers on Friday said that she thought what was important about having this event is that she and her peers were able to understand peoples’ hardships. She believes that this shouldn’t only be a one-off but should happen annually. By looking at the faces of everyone at the end of the session, it was apparent that they had all been fully engaged and moved by the session. Some suggestions by students on other things that could be done to raise awareness about gun violence were using social media, with the hashtag - #MarchForOurLives, giving speeches and having petitions.


Mr Gibbs our Head of Department for Music and one of the frontrunners in making “Bears and Prayers” possible left our students and teachers with a quote that has a strong message: “The only thing we need to fear is our teddy bears.” What he meant by this quote is that children shouldn’t have to fear for their lives going to school, but instead they should feel safe and happy.


From the land of the long white cloud to the United States – ‘E tu ana matou i a koe, Kia Kaha. We stand by you, Be strong.’


Shontelle Matano