Speaker Name: Erahm Christopher
Speaker Info: Producer of Film Listen and Facilitator of Reardan Event
Event Date: May 19, 2022
On May 19th, 2022, Erahm Christopher brought his film “Listen” (2017) to students, staff and community members in Reardan schools. The events were jointly sponsored by AIER and ESD 101 in Spokane . “Listen” is a provocative film dealing with the real lives of students and their health struggles. Everyday students are waiting for someone to notice they are broken or alone. What happens when we don't listen?
“Listen” is a narrative film inspired by real youth dying to be heard. “Listen” is a powerful and provocative film exploration, more important than ever during this pandemic, of the impact trauma, anxiety, depression, bullying and suicide are having on the lives of our students in and out of school. The film illustrates the essential role adults play in the lives of our youth and in the fabric of our communities. It provides a candid look at how our educational system and parenting methods often fail to recognize that our youth need patience, compassion, and most of all our attention.
The core message of the film and Mr. Christopher’s presentation is that the skill of listening is rarely taught in schools, and the culture required to listen effectively often eludes schools and school leadership. By working intentionally to teach the skill of listening with empathy and focus Mr. Christopher has reached students and educators in well over 1000 schools on three continents.
The Program at Reardan:
During the day of May 19th, Mr. Christopher met with groups of student leaders and groups of school staff and faculty to show his film and to start to lay the groundwork for teaching listening to students and staff. He also helped to plant the seeds of a vison for a cultural shift in school; creating an entire “school and community that can listen to students”.
In the evening of May 19th, Mr. Christopher did a screening of his film, and then facilitated a 90 minute discussion about the themes, ideas, and message of the film for the entire audience of about 80 people. In the audience that evening there were students, parents, community members, church-group member, and also members of the Reardan Mayor’s office, as well as the Reardan Police and Fire departments.
The message of the film is deceptively simple, yet profound enough to change lives: that message is “Listening is perhaps the most fundamentally important thing we can offer each other in support of our mental health and flourishing”. If we are to create safer, more supportive, more engaging schools it starts with listening to our students and community.
Eric Sobotta, the Superintendent of Reardan-Edwall schools felt the time with his students and staff spent on developing our listening skills and culture is among the most important work we can be doing for our students and community. AIER was proud to work with both Reardan-Edwall, and ESD 101 to bring this valuable program to Eastern Washington, and looks forward to more work with “Listen”.