Celebrating differences for Pink Shirt Day at St. Stephen High School
St. Stephen – “We’ve been part of Pink Shirt Day since the beginning, “said Tricia Calder, Guidance Counselor, at the St. Stephen High School (SSHS). “It was important to us to promote awareness, and what the day is really about.” Pink Shirt Day, which will take place at schools and businesses across the county, the province, and the country tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 22, is a day to show your support for those who are different, and who suffer from bullying, be it at school, or online. It started in Nova Scotia, when students rallied behind a fellow student who was being bullied because of his pink shirt.
And with that, the pink shirt became the rally crying uniform to let everyone know that bullying, in any form, nor for any reason, will be tolerated.
“We have pledge cards that the students have signed, and we are hanging them on a pink clothesline, in the cafeteria. Students actually take the pledge before they sign, to stand up against bullying,” said Calder. The pledge itself reads, “I pledge to value others, be kind to others and respect others’ differences. I pledge to not be a by-stander and treat all students with respect. I pledge to be responsible online and to report any online harassment/bullying to an adult.”
“We want to push home the message of the importance of respecting and accepting the differences of others,” emphasized Calder.
The SSHS Wellness Crew is spearheading the days events, with several different activities and actions happening throughout the day. “They’ve decorated the cafeteria in pink, have been encouraging students to wear pink on Wednesday, and will be selling pink shirts in the cafeteria. The shirt was designed by one of our students a couple of years ago,” said Calder.
During the morning break, the SSHS Wellness Crew will be handing out pink smoothies and cookies, and will have staff treats as well.
At noon, the students will have the opportunity to pose with friends in a photo booth, and students and staff will meet in the gym, with approximately 70 pink balloons, to take a photo with the balloons in the air. Then, there will be a balloon pop challenge, and if the balloon has a little piece of paper in it, then that person gets a prize, all in the effort of awareness with some fun thrown in.
And Calder agrees that bullying itself has changed considerably over the last 10 years. There is less of the locker shoving, and more abuse online. “It certainly still happens here, but less is happening in the schools, and more abuse and bullying takes place after school, online, through social media,” warned Calder.
“The anonymous nature, the lack of face to face contact, can make kids more brave – give them more courage to say things.”
With 51 per cent of all teens in Canada having had a negative experience with bullying online and through social media and networking, cyber bullying is the today’s bastion for bullies.
As educators now see cyber bullying as large a problem as smoking and drugs in schools, the issue continues to gain ground and importance.
“We hope to change that,” said Calder, “through events like the Pink Shirt Day, and education, and start getting kids to understand the results of their actions.”