In an effort to promote messages of anti-bullying, Airdronians will once again colour co-ordinate their outfits Feb. 26 for Pink Shirt Day.
According to pinkshirtday.ca, the national campaign “was inspired to raise funds to support anti-bullying programs” after Nova Scotia teens Travis Price, David Shepherd and their friends distributed pink T-shirts at their high school to support a boy who was bullied for wearing the colour.
Locally, the campaign will be supported by schools, community organizations and businesses who will use the annual event as an opportunity to educate about the impacts of bullying and to raise funds for local programs that assist youth.
Rocky View Schools (RVS) is encouraging students and staff to wear pink in an effort to demonstrate their commitment to healthy and safe school communities.
“Fostering learning environments that value student voice, opportunity, fairness, compassion, citizenship, choice and diversity is essential to students making a positive difference in their life, school community and the world,” said Jodi Neetz, program manager for Stepping Stones to Mental Health with RVS.
According to Neetz, schools across the division will take part in Pink Shirt Day through a variety of events and programs. Plenty of students and teachers will wear pink to promote the anti-bullying message on Feb. 27, and Neetz said many schools will hold assemblies about bullying awareness and education for both students and staff. Student groups – including leadership classes – will also organize classroom presentations and Pink Parties.
“It is everyone’s responsibility – students, school staff and families – to work together to stand up against bullying and discrimination,” she said.
Students from École Edwards Elementary School will go off-campus to learn more about the topic of anti-bullying by participating in the fourth annual Telus Be Brave to #EndBullying game at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Through guest speakers, concourse displays and activities during a Calgary Hitmen game, the event highlights the importance of preventing bullying.
Principal Nancy Dutchik said the school has attended the game in the past, and believes it is an opportunity to engage students in discussions on the importance of kindness, which the school is working hard to reinforce.
“When schools work towards a positive school culture, it is our hope that students will be brave and use words and kind actions,” she said.
Elsewhere in the community, the Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie (BGCA) has partnered with a number of local businesses in a fundraiser to promote Pink Shirt Day. According to Kathy Ritcher, manager of Events and Volunteer Co-ordination, pink shirts can be purchased until Feb. 26 at London Drugs for $9.80. Paper shirts and “kindness bracelets” are also available for $2 at the drug store, Homegrown House and Pantry Inc., The Hair Lounge, Airdrie Registry, Access Chiropractic and Wellness, and Snap! Collectables.
Brady Dolan, manager of Airdrie London Drugs, said he’s seen Airdrie embrace the anti-bullying message of Pink Shirt Day through support of the fundraiser, and feels it is important to promote the positive message.
“We’ve seen the good that comes with it,” he said. “It’s very meaningful knowing that all money raised stays within our community.”
One hundred per cent of proceeds from the fundraiser go into programming and services provided by BGCA, Ritcher said, which support local children and youth.
“Anti-bullying initiatives are important as they let the victims know that they are not alone,” she said. “Bullying is not acceptable. It can cause long term physical and mental heath issues. BGCA is a safe, bullying-free zone. We are there to support and offer guidance to any child or youth seeking help.”
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