Prince Albert combats bullying with cookies

Jodi
Jodi Schellenberg
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A Prince Albert School spread the message of anti-bullying to their students with the help of cookies.

The students of W.J. Berezowsky School banded together with the SaskTel Pioneers on an anti-bullying campaign for National Pink Day on Wednesday.

Last week, the Pioneers provided the students with the ingredients to make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

“The students baked 850 chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies for us to give to the students,” said Dawn Marie Topham, project co-ordinator and past president of Pioneers.

After the students and volunteers baked the cookies, the Pioneers then packaged them individually and put I Am Stronger stickers on each.

“The I Am Stronger website, which SaskTel is a major sponsor of that, gave us the stickers and bracelets to give to the students,” Topham said.

On Wednesday, the Pioneers, with the help of both Mintos and A&W Bears players, gave each student in the school a cookie and a bracelet and spoke to them about the I Am Stronger website.

“SaskTel has a history of community involvement and social responsibility and we take pride in the role our corporation plays in supporting the community in which we do business,” Topham said. “Whether through volunteerism or sponsorship of community events and non-profit organizations, the work we do with Saskatchewan youth or our environmental stewardship practices, SaskTel knows the importance of being a socially responsible organization and contributing to a stronger and healthier community.”

The I Am Stronger website (iamstronger.ca) is designed to influence the change needed to stop the activities of bullying and cyberbullying through the use of social media, she said.

“The website gives them a pledge to take to say they will try to stop bullying and also some tips they can get on how to stop bullying,” Topham said. “Teachers can use this, families can use this and students can look it up themselves.”

They can also access I Am Stronger information on both Twitter and Facebook.

“We all know how peer pressure and social interaction affects things so this is a way of everyone aligning together,” Topham said. “In addition to the pledge feature, those who experience bullying can share their stories on the I Am Stronger website. The website provides links to subject matter experts and 24/7 counselling and reporting resources.”

Working with an organization like the Pioneers to combat bullying is important, said vice principal Roy Feschuk.

“We regularly stress the importance of anti-bullying with the kids -- sometimes I worry that the word bullying is becoming a buzzword and the seriousness of the matter isn’t taken wholeheartedly by the kids,” Feschuk said. “I think this reinforces the importance of listening to every member of the community -- the school, the staff, whomever -- and if they feel they are being bullied, the right attention is given to the matter.”

It is important to also teach children to take matters into their own hands, instead of relying on others to help them all the time.

“We are teaching kids to stand up for each other as well as standing up for themselves as well as speaking out against it so the those who are making others feel uncomfortable or unsafe don’t have that voice,” Feschuk said.

National Pink Day isn’t known very well in Saskatchewan, Feschuk said, as there is a Provincial Pink Day in April.

“I think the Pioneers are bringing that bit of attention to Prince Albert and all of Saskatchewan to recognize it in more than just the one day,” Feschuk said. “It probably needs more than that. I think what this leads to is a bit of a beginning of a period of action.”  

He hopes the school can talk about the subject more after having the presentation on Wednesday.

“I know we introduced it today and what it leads into is a possible classroom or door decorating contest -- where kids are getting those messages out and they get to contribute their ideas and beliefs on how to end it,” Feschuk said. “We have to put that power in the hands of the kids. They have to be the ones that are developing the tools, using their voices and speaking out against these issues of bullying. This is the call of action.”

He is proud of the Berezowsky Fun Blasters wanting to get involved in the campaign. They are involved in everything from planning hot lunches to putting on school dances and spirit days.

“The cookies, it was as simple as asking if anyone was interested in baking cookies for an anti-bullying campaign,” Feschuk said. “There were 31 hands in the air and the question was how to squeeze them into kitchen time. What an amazing group of leaders we have coming out of W.J. Berezowsky School.”

The 35 students who volunteered -- mostly Grade 7 students and members of the Fun Blasters club -- were given T-shirts by the Pioneers to show their appreciation of the work the students put into the project.

The remainder of the 850 cookies baked by the students went on to spread the message to others in the community, Topham said.

“At the store today, there are 600 cookies there and a bunch of stickers they will be giving to anyone who comes with a child and they will be wearing pink and handing out the cookies to promote anti-bullying because it is National Pink Day.”

Organizations: SaskTel, Prince Albert, W.J. Berezowsky School

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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