Belmont Secondary School students put themselves in someone else’s shoes as part of a creative writing assignment. (Photo courtesy of SD 62)

Belmont Secondary School students put themselves in someone else’s shoes as part of a creative writing assignment. (Photo courtesy of SD 62)

West Shore students put best foot forward for creative writing class

Belmont assignment explores empathy through a stranger’s shoes

A creative writing class had students step out of their comfort zone and into the shoes of a stranger.

Grade 11 students at Belmont Secondary School were tasked with writing a story about the person that may have owned a pair of shoes they selected for the assignment.

About 30 students took part in Walk a Mile in my Shoes, explained Bev Sawatzky, a Belmont teacher who has been with the Sooke School District for about 20 years.

“The St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store and staff donated a real variety of footwear,” Sawatzky said. “That included a young child’s cute little pair of cowboy boots. We really appreciated their generosity.”

The students explored what kind of person may have owned the footwear, sharing what they might be like and the circumstances surrounding their life and their footwear, with a focus on empathy in stories that ranged from 300 to 400 words.

Sawatzky chose empathy for a topic because “Everyone would like to live in a non-judgmental, compassionate society.”

“We can achieve that by identifying with someone else through their feelings,” she noted. “If you can make something fun in a writing course, it engages the students more. You don’t want to build just literacy, but enhance intelligence as well. The students enjoy it, which is very rewarding as a teacher.”

Using something more inspirational than a photograph makes it more real and more tangible, Sawatzky added. “It’s my favourite course to teach.”

Sawatzky is already looking forward to the second part of the assignment, which will pair the students to create stories where the characters they wrote about come together.

READ ALSO: Belmont, Royal Bay, Edward Milne high schools smash 10,000 Tonight goals

The Old Black Vans is an example of one of the assignments handed in.

Old Black Vans

“You are a horrible mom!” I screamed, with tears in my eyes, while I put on my old, black, hated Vans Sk8-Hi.

I grabbed my headphones and my hooded black jacket while I saw her stumble up to me in the corner of my eye.

“Don’t you dare say something like that!” she babbled and I ran out of the shabby, cheap apartment near New York City.

I slammed the door as hard as I could and the hinges made a shrieking sound. As I flew down the stairs of the building, I felt my toes bumping into the front of my shoes; it hurt, but I was used to it. They had been a gift from my father two years ago for my 15th birthday, when he was still with us. My feet grew too big for them almost six months after; they were a size 6.5.

We used to live in a big mansion, with a gigantic garden in a safe community. I had a lot of friends at my old school and I had time to meet up with them often. We enjoyed a fantastic childhood, until my father left for work one day and never came back. Nobody knows where he went or what happened.

I tried to text him several times, but it never even got delivered; it was like I texted a number nobody owns. Since then, my mom lost her job and herself in the consumption of alcohol and our lives turned about 180 degrees.

I finally left the building and put the big hood on my head because it was already dark, which meant dangerous in our run-down complex. I plugged my cheap headphones in my ears, turning the volume up, until the sound screamed in my ears and I disappeared in my overwhelming thoughts. Why does she always have to be like that – always drunk, never listening?

I just want us to have a life that is worth living again. I want my sisters to be able to live an enjoyable childhood and I want to be able to afford new, admirable shoes. Mine are getting older and as I get more broken, they do too. Most people would wear these sneakers only in their free time; I have to wear them anywhere – to a job interview, to school or even to a doctor appointment – it doesn’t make an adequate impression.

I often imagine throwing them with all my problems in the dumpster; I never want to lay an eye on them again. They simply represent the nonexistent love that my father felt for us. My heart hurts every time they catch my sight. I only feel anger toward him. Since he left everything went down and nothing is like before. He is the reason my siblings grow up with an alcoholic mother who doesn’t care about them at all. He is the reason I lost most of my friends because I have to work, study and take care of everything the whole day. He is the reason for everything bad happening to me. I hate him. I hate these shoes.

I ripped them off my feet and smashed them into the ground, while releasing an angry scream and collapsing onto my knees on the dark sidewalk. My head felt like it wanted to dig itself a hole in my arms, which were resting on my skinny legs, and never come out again.

Suddenly I felt tiny raindrops hitting my jacket. Within a few seconds, they started to grow bigger and bigger, until they even drowned out the loud music in my ear. “Ouch, seriously?” I shouted, stood up and started to run to a shelter nearby.

My eyes spotted a brown, wooden bench sitting in the back. I sat down for another hour, just listening to the sound of the raindrops hitting the hard asphalt of the street and feeling lonely in my thoughts.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Belmont secondarySD62

Just Posted

While recovering several items reported stolen from the set of a Netflix movie in early April, West Shore RCMP also seized drugs and drug trafficking items from a Colwood residence last week. (Black Press Media file photo)
Electronics, credit cards taken from Neflix set found in Colwood home

West Shore RCMP seize stolen items, drugs, trafficking materials

The Sooke Fine Arts Show will be online again this year, showcasing unique artworks from Vancouver Island and B.C.’s coastal island artists from July 23 to Aug. 2. (File - Sooke News Mirror)
Sooke Fine Arts Show to have a virutal walk-through gallery for 35th year

Longest-running show on Vancouver Island aims for 300 pieces in an online gallery

Pathfinders and Wild Wise Sooke built slim, black bat houses to be hung around Sooke. (Submitted/Wild Wise Sooke)
Sooke teens build bat condos

Wild Wise Sooke says bats will sleep, hibernate and raise their young in the boxes

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

New changes are being proposed to four streets in James Bay to allow better access for cyclists. Residents have until June 11 to provide feedback. (Black Press Media file photo)
New revisions to James Bay bike lanes open for feedback

Routes on Government and Montreal streets planned for 2022

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Most Read