Anti-bullying resource package

LOCAL songwriter Katie Hardyman will head to Sydney next week to give a presentation to the Department of Education about the 'I'm Just a Child' anti-bullying resource package.

Katie has worked closely with Australian artist, illustrator and emerging poet, Monica Markovina on the project for the past few years and the pair earlier this year met with Robert Lee, the senior policy advisor to the minister for education, to discuss it, but while interest was shown, nothing came of it.

Five months later and the department has contacted Katie, inviting her to pitch it to them.

Katie was inspired to write the original song by her young son who had been having a tricky time at school.

She wrote about anti-bullying, a heartfelt expression of love triumphing over judgement and the power of choice.

The message, which is now the trademark, is 'Don't Hate, Be a Mate'.

Originally she secured vocalist Dan Markovina for the recording, and also included back-up vocals from the St Joseph Primary School and St Clare's High School choirs.

It was suggested she switch the vocalist to a child to make it more child-friendly, but at the time it wasn't her focus.

"I didn't do it for two years."

One night at dinner with Dan she met his wife Monica, an illustrator, and asked whether she might be able to create an animation for her song.

Monica agreed and last year they embarked on the process, working with a team that included multi-award winning animator and cartoonist Paul Newell, musical producer and arranger Peter Stevenson from Turn Around Music, Taree, and with guidance from Australian cinematographer Jan Kenny.

But while it was all coming together, Katie said it just wasn't working.

She decided to switch the vocalist to a young person and an extensive audition process throughout the country began.

Young people from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tried out, but in the end the perfect voice was waiting for them in the Manning Valley, in Charlotte Reece.

"Charlotte sat next to me and sang, and we went into the studio not long after".

The backing vocals by the local school choirs were retained, the animation was rated G for television and trademarked 'Don't Hate, Be a Mate'.

In addition to the song, Monica has written and illustrated a book, for which they called on the expertise of a clinical psychologist to help with the wording.

The hope now is to secure government funding to try and get the song and book into all schools across the state, and even the country.

The anti-bullying resource package includes the song with animation (which would be played to the students), the book (which would be read to them or they would read, as a class) and in the back of the book is a teaching resource.

Already it has been trialled at St Joseph's Primary School in Taree for peer support and a number of preschools have come on board as well.

Funding is required to print more books (there have been 20 printed to be used during the trials), which is targeted at pre-primary age to year four.

The animation I'm Just a Child is a finalist in Australian Art Sales short film awards, which is a global contest.

You can visit the website to vote for the animation from November 2013 in the People's Choice category.

Katie said they now need people to rally support behind the the project and invite people to find out more at the website and to 'like' the Facebook page.

From the "Don't Hate, Be A Mate" animation.

From the "Don't Hate, Be A Mate" animation.