Pretty in pink and smiling away, students from the crew responsible for an anti-bullying message at Springvalley Middle School look the picture of the fearless youngsters this week is meant to create.
Today, Wednesday, Feb. 23, marks Pink Shirt Day, an anti-bullying awareness day recognized nationally in a campaign spearheaded by the school system and the Boys & Girls Club of Canada.
Pink Shirt Day is meant to reduce the incidents of bullying that make school a fearful place for some students by encouraging discussion about the topic, providing resources for parents and students, and generally raising awareness that bullying is not alright.
Here in the Okanagan, activities have been underway for the past month to mark the day.
“Some of our clubs have had RCMP officers visit to talk about bullying and how to prevent it…And I know one of our clubs took a ‘no name calling’ pledge for all members, parents and staff,” said Okanagan Boys & Girls Club marketing and fund development coordinator Erin Trifunov.
Pink Shirt Day originated in Nova Scotia where a Grade 9 student new to Central Kings Rural High School was being bullied and harassed for showing up at school wearing a pink T-shirt.
Fellow students David Shepherd and Travis Price purchased 50 pink T-shirts from a discount store and enlisted fellow students to wear the shirts at school to support the student who was being bullied.
Their actions caught the attention of national and international media and, in the four years since, a campaign has been built around Pink Shirt Day (www.pinkshirtday.ca) that spans the entire continent.
Trifunov said the Okanagan has only really participated in the event for the past couple of years, but noted the message has caught on like wildfire with the posters and slogans and discussions that occur forming the backdrop for a year-round dialogue.
In the last year, anti-bullying messages have been covered extensively in the news after a rash of child and youth suicides sparked outcry over the extent to which the bullying is affecting young peoples’ lives.
In many of the cases, the bullying stemmed from accusations of homosexuality.
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