Kiera Sands noticed that there were a lot of cliques at her school Garibaldi Secondary and that bothered her.
After seeing a program on television called If You Really Knew Me, Sands thought something similar might be helpful to break down barriers among students at her school.
So she decided to approach the school's principal Grant Frend, who jumped on board.
Students in high school have many of the same worries, Frend said, and the program Breaking Down the Walls is meant to teach them to be more empathic towards each other.
"They're all going through heavy stuff," Frend said about high-school students.
He added that he hoped the series of intense workshops would make students notice each other, to create "an epidemic of kindness."
During Breaking Down the Walls, a three-and-a-half-day series, students were challenged to talk about the issues they are facing.
Frend said it has been one of the "best things I've seen in education."
Sands found that it was hard to be "weird" or "different" at her school, and that there was a negative attitude toward some students, for example, those who didn't have nice clothes.
One exercise was called "cross the line" and students were asked questions like "do you have an eating disorder" or "have you ever bullied anyone."
Sands said she was able to talk about very personal issues that she'd never talked about before, like eating problems and her father's illness.
"The support I got was so inspiring, it was amazing," she said, adding that "everyone in that room was listening."
"I think this is really going to help the school," Sands said.
Phil Boyte, who has been working at high schools and colleges for about 25 years, was at Garibaldi leading his program Breaking Down the Walls.
"There is a need to connect people and make people feel as if they are a significant part of a school community," Boyte said about why he has been doing this work for more than two decades.