Students taking a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day

Jodi Schellenberg
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All it takes is one person to make a difference.

Pink shirt day

In 2007, when two students in Berwick, Nova Scotia decided to take a stand against bullying they never imagined it would create an international movement.

“It really started when DJ Shepherd, the other co-founder, (and I) heard about a Grade 9 student in our school being bullied for simply wearing a pink shirt,” co-founder Travis Price said. “We just tried to think of a proactive way that we could stand up for this kid, to show him that he wasn’t alone in our school.”

Since Price was bullied throughout his entire school life, he thought it would “be a great way to not only stand up for him but stand up for myself as well,” he said.

The idea was to show the student he was not alone, there were others like him and they could all get through it, Price said.

“That night, we bought 76 pink women’s tank tops -- just anything we could find to show this kid and get other kids to wear pink as well,” Price said. “We were very fortunate the next day when we showed up to school that 800 kids showed up wearing pink. I keep telling people we accidentally created the largest growing anti-bullying movement in the world today.”

The campaign first spread like wildfire across Canada and has now reached other countries such as Ireland and Japan.

“I think it is over 13 countries now take part in this movement and it is because of youth, like me, who have been bullied and want it to stop and are looking for a proactive way to do that,” Price said. “They have been able to don that pink shirt and stand up for one another.”

Although the movement has grown since that first day in 2007, Price said the same ideals hold true.

“It is to raise awareness, to remind people that there are these kids out there that might be getting left behind, that might be being bullied,” Price said. “It is a great day for kids that are being bullied to go to school and not have to worry about the effects of being bullied, that they can join in a commonality with someone -- wear a pink shirt and not have to worry about those effects.”

He explained there needs to be more awareness surrounding prevention because bullying is the most serious issue that kids deal with today.

“There was a study last … they asked kids what they were most scared of -- high school bullying, nuclear war or cancer,” Price said. “All but one kid, and they sampled like 1,000 kids, said bullying.

“This is the problem they face. They are not worried about mortgages or taxes or politics, they are worried about getting up that day and having to go to school and face that bully,” he added. “I think it is very important that we continue to have these days to show them that they are not alone.”

He wants students to take two things away from the anti-bullying campaign.

“You can survive this and as dark as times may seem (remember) that someone such as myself that has been bullied, has been on the edge and has been able to get through this and here I still stand,” Price said.

The second point he wants them to remember is they can stand up for one another.

“When you see bullying happen, when you see this in your school, you can stand up, make a difference and make that bullying stop,” Price said. “It is up to youth to really make a difference in this movement.

“Politicians help with legislation and RCMP officers help protect us but really it is up to the kids to say enough is enough within our schools and change the culture within the school (so) bullying is no longer tolerated there.”

The founders partnered with Red Cross to help spread the message and to get the tools into the hands of youth.

“It is youth to youth. It is putting the tools in youth hands and letting them solve the problems within their school,” Price said.

This week, Price is visiting schools around Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw and Weyburn.

Although he is not coming to Prince Albert, there will still be a number of Pink Shirt Day celebrations, including a gym blast and Beyond the Hurt workshops on Wednesday at Carlton Comprehensive High School.

Organizations: RCMP, Red Cross, Prince Albert Carlton Comprehensive High School

Geographic location: Canada, Ireland, Japan Saskatchewan Saskatoon Moose Jaw Weyburn

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