Pink shirt day walk to raise awareness of bullying

If you happen to be in downtown Kelowna Wednesday afternoon, you may notice a wave of pink shirts walking by.

The inaugural pink shirt day walk is being put on by the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs to raise awareness of bullying.

According to Richelle Lawrence, events coordinator with the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs, pink shirt day originated in Nova Scotia after a high school student was bullied and harassed for wearing a pink shirt to school. Two young men purchased 50 pink shirts from a discount store and enlisted fellow students to wear them at school in support of the bullied student.

For six years, the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs have been getting local businesses, schools and politicians to participate in pink shirt day. This is the first year the organization has incorporated the walk as well.

"I certainly think that it's grown in its scope, as far as people recognizing it," said Lawrence.

"I think there is still room to grow, obviously, because (bullying) hasn't stopped."

The events coordinator said the walk was added this year to increase awareness and get people in the community talking.

"We don't know what to expect, this is the first time we've done the walk. We've invited everybody who has purchased shirts to come out…we're hoping there will be lots."

Through the proceeds of shirt sales, the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs are able to provide ongoing programs that foster self-esteem, social engagement, academic success and connection to community.

"At Boys and Girls Clubs, we know that victims of bullying, witnesses of bullying and bullies themselves all experience the very real and long-term negative impacts of bullying regardless of its forms: Physical, verbal, written or online.

"We also know there are constructive and supportive ways to help children and youth develop skills to prevent bullying and to thrive.

"We know that by developing those skills in a supportive environment, the emotional and psychological scars from bullying that haunt and shape people's futures can be avoided."

Wednesday's walk takes place at 3 p.m., beginning at the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs downtown youth centre, 1633 Richter Street, and ending at the Sails.

Twitter: @PatersonWade


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