We're well into quarter three of 2019 here at Good Stuff box, and we thought we'd take this opportunity to introduce you to our third charity partner of the year - the Get REAL Movement.
Get REAL was founded in 2011, inspired by the team's experiences volunteering in the 'Welcome Week' program at Western University. As older mentors to hundreds of students each year, they began noticing that they were having success talking to first year students about derogatory (homophobic, transphobic, racist, etc.) language, and creating a safe space for marginalized students who were looking to express themselves safely.
The reason was in their approach: they were close in age, friendly, non-judgemental, and personal. They often opened up about our own lives to build a genuine, honest, human connection... and it worked. They saw countless students changing their language within days, and countless others coming out to them and feeling more comfortable being themselves.
With a bit of tweaking and content development, they wondered whether it could be possible to translate their experiences and approach into a high school, or even a middle school setting, and achieve the same results. Could they create the type of program they wished had been around while they were growing up? They settled on a name (REAL stands for Reaching Equality At Last) and a fellow student-run business donated 50 bright pink hats, with their logo on the front, so they could start fundraising for small expenses like gas to get to schools.
People were drawn to Get REAL right away, and they started seeing pink hats all over campus, worn on the heads and on backpacks of students who identified with our goal of combatting prejudice, challenging stereotypes, and promoting acceptance and compassion for all. At the end of an exciting first year of operation, they produced a video titled "To My Grade 7 Self". Intended merely to be content for teachers to use in their classrooms, TMG7S went viral. Within days, CTV and Global News had aired stories, students from other universities were asking to bring Get REAL to their campus, and high school and middle school teachers were asking them to come and speak to their students. A few months later, Get REAL incorporated as a non-profit, and the dream of a small group of passionate students became, officially, a reality.
Since then, Get REAL has evolved in amazing ways that the team simply couldn't have imagined. They have spoken to over 250,000 students in 8 provinces and 3 states, they have a core full-time staff based in Toronto, and have been featured on Global News, CTV, Much Music, and the National Post. They have university chapters and high school after-school programs that they are proud of, made up of creative, courageous, and hard-working young people across the country. Their videos and curriculum pieces are used by teachers from Canada to the UK to Australia, and their clothing line REAL Apparel is worn by supporters and customers from around the world. Most importantly, they have seen the results they had hoped would translate, in the middle schools, high schools, summer camps, and companies they've worked with.
Get REAL was a simple idea that came from a genuine place. It has been developed by working hard, and never taking our focus off why they started in the first place. And by having a bit of fun doing it. They are very proud of what they have achieved, together, and they are grateful to all those who have helped them along the way. They love meeting new people and bringing them together; they say it's one of the best parts of what they do. Shoot them a message anytime. And remember, it's never too late to reach out, to support your friends, or to just be yourself.
Get REAL will receive 100% of the proceeds from the sale of our Good Stuff Stickers sold until Sept 30, 2019. Stickers are available with or without a subscription purchase for just $1 each and can be mailed anywhere in Canada, or picked up locally at The Island Jar for our Manitoulin-area friends.