Edward and Robert Zemba, brothers and owners of Robert Charles Photography in East Longmeadow, Mass., know what bullying looks like. They both saw it firsthand growing up. Now, with children of their own and many high school senior clients who visit their studio, they felt compelled to partner with those students to launch the anti-bullying campaign, UNIFY, Unique iNdividuals Inspiring Future Youth.
The program included a fashion show held in late April with a variety of high school-aged children of various backgrounds, shapes, ethnicities and physical abilities making their way down the runway. The event, sponsored by dozens of local companies and attended by more than 400 people, raised funds to support anti-bullying efforts and educational programs at area schools.
“This was an outreach project with high school seniors to encourage awareness,” says Robert Zemba. “The fashion show was wrapped around celebrating diversity. In the show, we had performances that really told the story about bullying and how kids work together to overcome bullying.”
With the students, the Zembas created the video below to promote the event and deliver the group’s message:
During a performance at the fashion show and in the video, which focuses on name-calling and “labeling,” the Zembas printed various words on LexJet Print-N-Stick Fabric, a removable self-adhesive product. The words were stuck on and later removed from one of the kids to emphasize using positive labels rather than hurtful ones.
Prior to the event, the Zembas created an 80-inch-by-100-inch wall display, also printed on Print-N-Stick, that was installed at Enfield Square Mall. The display, pictured at left, was made up of four 42-inch wide images that were printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 9900 44-inch printer, a recent addition to the Robert Charles Photography studio, purchased from LexJet.
“We came up with a display that was very powerful and very well received,” Robert says. “The best part was that the folks at the mall very concerned about a ‘wallpaper display’ — was it permanent? But we explained that the Print-N-Stick would come right down with no residue left behind. Once we showed them the product, they said, ‘Oh wow, that’s great!'”
The addition of the large-format Epson printer, Robert says, has provided increased flexibility to do more in-house printing. “To be able to print 44 inches wide is a game changer for us,” he says.
The UNIFY video and program have received attention across the country, the Zembas say, and they’re working on spreading the message further and planning the 2016 fashion show event.
“We are big believers in giving back,” Robert says. “And this was a way to give back to the kids we work with and inspire them and let them know they’re not alone.”