Eric Hamber student Duva Karunakaran is lending his voice to the ERASE Bullying campaign, joining a panel that will directly consult with British Columbia's premier and education minister.
Karunakaran joins 11 other students, all of whom have been selected throughout B.C., to advise the government on bullying prevention and initiatives.
"I sent in a 30-second selfie video about what I hoped to accomplish on the advisory," says Karunakaran. "I wore something pink and spoke on issues that I felt were important."
The Grade 11 student thoughtfully articulated that fostering understanding and inclusion are the best ways to prevent bullying.
"Right now, I feel our methods are about persecuting the bully or the victim," says Karunakaran. "We should look harder at preventative methods, educating students on what it's like to be bullied and its mental, physical repercussions."
Already a member of Vancouver's district student council, Karunakaran says a VSB representative encouraged him to apply for the advisory role.
Through coaching soccer to youth with disabilities, Karunakaran has learned how inclusiveness can help stop bullying. He touts this experience as one reason why he was likely accepted on the panel.
"I love working with the athletes and I in turn, learned a lot about what they face," says Karunakaran. "I noticed that in our school, students with disabilities are isolated from the student body."
He points to initiatives that include disabled students in teams, having them as managers or honorary members, as methods of inclusion.
By also bringing his love of technology and social media to the table, Karunakaran hopes he can help stop cyber-bullying, which he has witnessed first hand.
"I'm capable in managing a lot of social media websites," says Karunakaran. "I run the Eric Hamber tech club and help teachers use technology in their classrooms. So what I also bring to the advisory is the ability to inform students how to use technology properly."
Karunakaran has already received a letter of congratulations from the Ministry of Education and cannot wait to meet his peers.
"I'm coming in with a lot of enthusiasm," smiles Karunakaran. "I'm just super excited!"