Cody’s drama students explored cancer stories to create run video

“This is a highly engaged group of students,” - Jacqui Renwick

BY SANDY BEXON

Drama 20/30 students at École H. J. Cody School in Sylvan Lake set out to motivate a few more students to take part in the school’s annual Terry Fox Run, but ended up igniting a whole new surge of interest in the entire Terry Fox movement.

“Our teachers came up with the idea of creating a video, so we started researching cancer statistics and some of us started sharing personal stories,” said Grade 11 student Ryan Bredy. “It became very clear that most of us have been affected by cancer — I’ve had multiple family members affected by cancer. It made us all motivated to dig a little deeper.”

Under the direction of their teacher, Jacqui Renwick, the entire class brainstormed things they wanted to see in the video. They broke the tasking into groups, with some conducting research through Canadian Cancer Society, some sketching a script and others gathering personal stories and organizing camera equipment. In the end, the timeline from the idea to the finished six minute video was just over one day.

“This is a highly engaged group of students,” said Renwick. “This is a class where every student feels like an important part of the group. They are respectful of one another and they were keen right from the start. It seemed that as the stories started to unfold and the personal challenges emerged, they began to feel like they could really make a difference through the video. They were dealing with a sensitive topic and put their hearts into it and handled it beautifully. They should be very proud of themselves — I’m very proud of all of them.”

The students wanted to be discreet with the personal stories of the struggles and loss that schoolmates shared, and chose to only circulate the video within the school instead of making it public. It is comprised of stats about cancer and information about Terry Fox, but at its core are short interviews with several students who name the person they will be devoting their school’s Terry Fox Run to. Most have lost a loved one to cancer or are currently supporting a family member as they fight the disease. Three of the students interviewed were dealing with close family members who had just been diagnosed that week, while others were running for one of their fellow students who passed two years ago.

“It made us feel really connected when we stood together to talk about this,” said Grade 11 student Brianne Hughes. “I think that some people just didn’t think it was real, or that cancer would ever happen to them or someone they love. We wanted people to know a lot of their peers have already been impacted by it. We also wanted to remind them about the legacy that Terry Fox left for all of us, and now people in the school are really interested in this year’s Terry Fox Run.

“None of us students were even born when he ran his Marathon of Hope and most of our parents were only teenagers, but my dad remembers crying when he watched it on the news. I think every Canadian should be very proud of Terry Fox. He’s a Canadian legend and a big part of our history, and people participate in the Terry Fox Run all over the world now. He wasn’t just a Canadian, he was someone dying of cancer and that affects everyone.”