Kamloops teen using art to start conversation about sexual assault

By Jill Sperling
November 30, 2017 - 3:48pm Updated: November 30, 2017 - 5:31pm

KAMLOOPS — The topic of sexual harassment has made headlines as numerous high-profile celebrities have faced various allegations over the past several weeks. 

The accusations have sparked conversations and movements like #MeToo. 

A 17-year-old high school student from Kamloops is also taking up the cause, hoping to ignite the conversation through art. 

"It's something that needs to be talked about, and obviously this is something that can't just be pushed underneath the rug anymore."

Alex Wood, inspired by the victims she knows personally, is organizing an art show addressing sexual assault, and the importance of education about consent. 

"Art is a very powerful way of expression, if you kind of look at history that many artists use their artwork to be able to make a message, and art is one thing that is very impactful and it will stay with you for years," Wood said. "I think if you're able to show how important consent is, and that sexual harassment and assault is not okay through art it's going to stay with somebody longer than having a big long speech about it." 

School District 73 Superintendent Alison Sidow says the provincial curriculum starts the conversation about sexual health, boundaries, and consent in the ninth grade. 

"We currently do have those conversations happening in our schools, but again we do it at an age appropriate level," Sidow said. "The last thing we want to do is to provide information for students or have a conversation that they're not ready to have. So we're very careful with how we present the materials, some of the material is very sensitive."

Wood believes the conversation should be for a wide range of age groups, but also says the artwork she and several other artists are planning to present in January will be most impactful to older teenagers and young adults. 

"If you look at many universities the amount of assault that's happening on campuses is quite upsetting," Wood said, "so hopefully it will really show young people that this is something that's important, you need to talk about what is consent, so hopefully that will really impact my age group."

While the school district is not directly involved with the upcoming art show, Sidow says she's proud of the student for shedding a light on a difficult topic. 

"Certainly, I support her," Sidow said. "I think she's a courageous young woman and those are the kinds of young leaders that we need in our communities."

The art show will take place on Jan. 13 from noon to 4 p.m. at Lansdowne Village. 

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