An Interview with Lucy Thomas
“PROJECT ROCKIT creates spaces where all young people have access to respect, acceptance, creative expression and real leadership skills. We send highly trained, passionate young presenters into schools to run workshops that empower students to lead positive change at school, online and beyond.”
The Ethical Enterprise Award is for social enterprises that have made significant contributions to social change. It is to enhance the platform of existing enterprises and celebrate their achievements; as well as to unite the Ethical Business and Enterprises to a socially conscious network with funding and further mentorship.
We spoke to Lucy Thomas of PROJECT ROCKIT to showcase their work as 2020 Ethical Enterprise Award Winners and learn more about this wonderful team. For over 15 years PROJECT ROCKIT has empowered students to take positive action and to be part of the solution when it comes to bullying, online and offline. The Ethical Enterprise Award aims to recognise great contributions to the community which thanks to our sponsors, provides financial support and mentorship to Award Winners.
“Growing up I always thought someone should do something about bullying.” - Lucy Thomas
How many years has PROJECT ROCKIT been operating? Lucy: PROJECT ROCKIT was launched in 2006 by myself and my sister Rosie when we were fresh out of high school ourselves. We were sick and tired of seeing the way that bullying negatively impacted our peers and frustrated that none of the conversations about bullying centred young people to lead meaningful positive change. After a couple of years of running our programs as a community project, we started to see a strong momentum behind PROJECT ROCKIT and the movement started to grow.
PROJECT ROCKIT is certainly successful in its presence in the community, which demonstrates the importance of their mission to combat bullying and provide a means through which kids can safely engage with other young people at school. The momentum and energy of PROJECT ROCKIT highlight the value of great peer mentorship and initiatives in creating thriving environments for kids to flourish, be themselves and feel accepted and safe.
Why is community awareness around PROJECT ROCKIT’s mission to combat bullying important? Lucy: Being bullied is such a damaging and life-changing experience for so many teens. Often those who are bullied feel that it’s their fault or that there’s something wrong with them and carry these beliefs long into adult life. By empowering school students with the skills and empathy to challenge bullying - at school, online and beyond - we can tangibly change the course of people’s lives and build a more inclusive society. The impact of this work will be with how it changes the narrative kids feel about themselves and their peers, knowing that it is beneficial and valuable to be kind and to act from a place of respect. It is a skill that kids will take with them into their young adult lives to have respect for others. The great work of PROJECT ROCKIT will certainly prevent feelings of isolation, low self-esteem and hardships that bullying can induce, which unfortunately have a long-standing impact.
Why is it important for kids to actively engage in acts of kindness and respect? Lucy: PROJECT ROCKIT workshops focus on the role that every person can play in building a world where kindness and respect thrive over bullying, hate and prejudice. It’s crucial that each of us recognise not only our responsibility but also our agency in bringing kindness and respect into all of our relationships. Students foster stronger values for kindness and respect with mentorship from Project Rockit. This sense of agency will help generate healthier adults that can make virtues from the values that they learn with PROJECT ROCKIT to enhance their sense of self in the community. This level of impact for social change is valuable as it reflects a community-driven, safer environment for people to achieve their potential after school.
What is it like to work with school kids with PROJECT ROCKIT? Lucy: Working with school students is honestly the best. I’m constantly awed by the brilliance of emerging generations when it comes to their social leadership, critical literacy, empathy and ability to think globally. I reckon I’ve learned more from school students than I ever learned as a school student myself! It enhances the community dynamic, having a strong solution to combating feelings of isolation and a culture of bullying in schools. Certainly both schools, with teachers, students and mentors alike benefiting from the great work of Project Rockit.
What is the team dynamic at PROJECT ROCKIT like? Lucy: Our team is really tight-knit because we’re so glued together on our shared purpose. Being youth-driven means that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working at P-ROCK or what your role is, every person’s voice and experience is valued. That’s one of my favourite parts of being CEO, I constantly have opportunities to learn from and with people who I’d never have met if it wasn’t for working at PROJECT ROCKIT!
How does healthy school culture enhance student well being and how does Project Rockit reflect this in their mission? Lucy: Building a positive culture within a school isn’t as simple as wearing your uniform with pride, having an inspiring motto or having a solid anti-bullying policy in place. It’s about cultivating a collective ownership between students, teachers and guardians to take care of each other and strive together. When PROJECT ROCKIT started out, we focused solely on empowering students to create positive change. But as we’ve grown up we’ve built our capability to support and reach adults as well and it’s exciting to be able to play a connecting role between the three groups, especially on difficult issues like tackling prejudice or building safer online communities. As the 2020 Ethical Enterprise Award Winners, PROJECT ROCKIT has a strong foothold in
continuing their fantastic work in schools and beyond to make our society further supported by the value of respect and kindness. We look forward to their presence at the 2021 Moral Fairground Conference: The Future is Now! To apply for the 2021 Ethical Enterprise Award Competition, visit here (entries closing 2nd of September): https://www.moralfairground.com.au/ethical-enterprise-awards-2021 For tickets to the Ethical Enterprise Conference, visits here: https://events.humanitix.com/ethical-enterprise-conference-the-future-is-now
Written by Jamileh Hargreaves