Continuing its fight against bullying, the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division (SRPSD) has big plans for Pink Shirt Day this year.
© Herald file photo
Westview Community Public School students and staff take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day in April 2013.
Come April 9, the public school board plans to hold a major event at Carlton Comprehensive Public High School for Grade 4 and 5 students from across the division as the centerpiece of the day’s anti-bullying activities.
“They’ve got the new gym, so it’s a great venue to have people in,” SRPSD superintendent of schools John Schultz said of the location.
“We’ll be involving the students that are there that are involved in the RespectED program, and so they’re going to be running a series of workshops,” he added.
The RespectED violence and abuse prevention program involves anti-bullying workshops run by certified students in Grades 10 to 12, who are scheduled to complete their training this Monday.
In the evening on Pink Shirt Day, the school division will also host a community involvement event for outside individuals, with families and students leading workshops on anti-bullying strategies.
This marks the third year that the SRPSD has celebrated Pink Shirt Day with its partners in the provincial Red Cross.
The location for its main anti-bullying event has changed each year, which Schultz attributed to the fact that the SRPSD includes both urban and rural schools.
“The very first one we had was at the Art Hauser Centre, a big event,” he said. “Last year’s event was in Shellbrook so that our rural students had opportunity to get there a little bit easier, and then this year we’re back in the city and it’ll be at Carlton.”
More than 1,000 students from Grade 4 and 5 are expected to attend the Carlton event, which Schultz noted would also include some special guests.
While not naming names, he hinted that the guests might include a local singer and a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Individual schools will also be holding their own activities for Pink Shirt Day, which Schultz emphasized is only a small part of an effort that lasts all year round.
“Pink Shirt Day is the day that we celebrate what we’ve been working on and use it as a great time to really enhance what we’ve been doing, but -- the big but is -- we do it all year,” he said. “We try to have things happening all year.”
Pink Shirt Day is the day that we celebrate what we’ve been working on and use it as a great time to really enhance what we’ve been doing, but ... we try to have things happening all year. John Schultz
Schultz noted that the public school division’s Pink Shirt Day activities would not be possible without the Compassionate Community Response Team (CCRT), a group of community volunteers who work closely with people who have been affected by traumatic incidents, usually involving loss of life.
The CCRT recently received a grant from the federal government to do work on bullying and cyberbullying in the community.
“The school system is doing a marvelous job of preparing an anti-bullying day for students and we’re involved in that planning and we’re helping with some funding on that,” CCRT member Jane Krafchuk said.
“But we also want to do something for parents, and so that would probably be after school.”
Krafchuk, who served as a social worker with the SRPSD for 26 years, noted that the grant also helps other education boards, such as the separate school division and Muskoday First Nation, in addition to the SRPSD.
Asked whether anti-bullying initiatives had had an effect since the first Pink Shirt Day at the SRPSD, Schultz said that it was hard to track incidents of bullying, especially since many start at home before coming to school.
One of the most valuable tools for gauging student experiences of bullying, he said, is the Tell Them From Me survey that public school students fill out once a year -- though at present it is likely too early to draw broad conclusions.
“We only started Tell Them From Me, a year, two years ago, so longitudinally I’ll know more in probably a year or two if we’re seeing any impact or not,” Schultz said.
“I will say this: I know that educationally our students are learning it because … they’re involved in these (anti-bullying) activities and they’re speaking the language, the common language around it, more than they ever have.”