Three local schools showed their support for a well-established anti-bullying initiative known as Pink Shirt Day on Wed. Feb. 27
Carbon, Morrin and Trochu Valley schools all participated in a number of activities to promote the message of kindness and strength in the face of adversity.
The schools attended the third annual ‘Be Brave’ themed Calgary Hitmen hockey game on Wed. Feb. 27 at the Saddledome to show their support for the initiative and message it holds.
Almost 15,000 staff and students attended the game. “It was very good,” began Trochu Valley School Principal, Leana Howard. “It was very organized.”
“Koodos to the Hitmen Hockey Club and the people that work at the Saddledome,” added Carbon School Principal, Marci Steen. “It was run so well like they had it right down to a science to where our buses went so it just flowed. It was really, really well put together. They do a great job at putting it all on.”
Trochu got lucky as they were seated in the first five rows behind the net so they were able to capture all the action up close.
Two guest speakers spoke to the audience at intermission with inspirational messages as well as a ‘movement break’ during the second period where everyone danced to a Taylor Swift song as if in a flash mob.
“We did receive the dance to practice so as a junior high we learned this dance with funky steps to it,” said Steen.
Akeem Haynes, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and self-help author, spoke in the first intermission while Rilee Manybears, an athlete from Siksika Nation and ambassador for the AMA Youth Run Club, spoke at the second intermission.
Each student received a pink t-shirt with ‘Be Brave’ plastered on the front as they entered to further the momentum of the game.
“All these people come together for the same kind of purpose,” said Steen. “I know we use the language a lot but we don’t always live it and it’s really cool to just see everybody pull together and they say it’s anti-bullying which is fine but what can we do?
“I love the approach of the guest speakers around [how] you can only control you and you have to do right by you. It takes away that whole ‘them against us’ point of view. It was just really good.”
The greatest impact the anti-bullying day has brought is consistent messaging for students to take into adulthood, hopefully instilling morals and values at an early age.
“I’m a firm believer in the opinion that when you give a kid the background and the understanding and you keep repeating the message over and over – sometimes it doesn’t feel like they’re actually getting it but as they mature and as they move forward in life, those foundational beliefs and values are what they come back to,” said Howard.
“We have to teach them about kindness but we also need to teach them how to face that adversity and how they can build themselves up so that they are less affected when something negative like that happens.”
Steen agreed saying everyone must walk the walk to keep this momentum going.
“This Pink Shirt Day was really important and the Be Brave game but this is something that we really have to live every day if we want to make an impact.
“At our school here, and I know all other schools really put together the different values and characteristics we want our students to have and we want them to be speaking that language every day all the time.
“It’s great to have these reminder days to bring us together and have some fun and really honour it but it’s something that we have to live and breath,” said Steen.
Pink Shirt Day began when a Nova Scotian Grade 9 student was being bullied for wearing a pink shirt. David Shepherd and Travis Price banded together and organized a protest overnight in support of the student.
They called classmates and collected 50 pink tank tops which were distributed in the foyer of the school the next day which gave the student hope and comfort in that environment.
Since this act of kindness in 2007, the idea has spread worldwide with large amounts of support and participation.
Last year alone, people in almost 180 countries showed their support through social media and various donations.