As hundreds of thousands of American students readied themselves to take to the streets to protest gun violence last week, Sancta Maria College stood in solidarity.
Almost every student armed themselves with teddy bears and gathered together to pray and sing in support of those taking part in the March for Our Lives rally to end gun violence.
Sparked by the Florida school shooting earlier this year, the March for Our Lives movement saw people from all over the United States and the world march the streets on Saturday March 24, demanding stricter US gun control laws.
Stuart Gibbs, head of Sancta Maria College’s music department, says their Bears and Prayers session was a way of showing support.
“We want them to know we stand beside them in wanting a more peaceful world,” he says
“We believe in loving each other and not living in fear and the gun culture is entirely based on fear -we don’t subscribe to that.”
Gibbs says the idea first came about on the day US president Donald Trump said all American teachers should be armed with guns in the classroom.
“I mentioned we should send a photo of our students with teddy bears because these are the most dangerous things we are prepared to hold in the classroom,” Gibbs says.
“Then Joanne [teacher] said, ‘Instead of the right to bear arms it should be the right to have arms full of bears’.
“And the idea snowballed and within a matter of weeks we had the whole school on board.”
Gibbs says the event was planned to fall the day before the worldwide rally.
“We want [our students] to be aware of what’s going on in the world and to understand how we are lucky to live in a country where we don’t have gun issues, and they don’t have to go to school fearing for their lives,” Gibbs says.
Now Gibbs says the focus is on getting photos of the event to students in America.
He says many of his students have already taken to twitter and Facebook to make contact with American students affected by gun violence in schools.
“What we are seeing now is that when they galvanise themselves, young people can achieve something amazing.” Gibbs says.