Schools aim to thwart bullying

Nathan Liewicki
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Vanier, YaraCentre to host Day of Pink events

If you have pink clothing or accessories, April 9 is the day to wear them proudly.

Day of Pink

Next Wednesday marks the eighth annual Day of Pink and it will be commemorated in Moose Jaw at a number of different locations, including YaraCentre and Vanier Collegiate.

Travis Price, co-founder of Pink Shirt Day, will be at YaraCentre for the Friendly City’s Day of Pink rally, so will students from both the Prairie South School Division (PSSD) and the Holy Trinity Catholic School Division (HTCSD).

“We've invited all of the schools to come and take part,” said Bonnie Konihowski, one of the rally’s co-ordinators. “We've got about 363 students that are coming from a variety of schools.”

Miranda Biletski, a Canadian wheelchair rugby player and Royal Bank of Canada Olympian, will also be sharing her story with students at YaraCentre.

The event's doors will open for the rally at 9 a.m., but the event is not expected to begin until 9:40 a.m.

In addition to stories told by Price and Biletski, the Day of Pink rally will feature several photo booths for students to take pictures with props, sharing their own anti-bullying messages.

The event is expected to conclude by 11:30 a.m. – two hours before Vanier’s own rally begins.

Grade 7 and 8 students from Moose Jaw’s five HTCSD schools will be attending the assembly, which will introduce Vanier’s Students 4 Action group.

“We have trained these students to be an anti-bullying peer support group, which is designed to provide peer support to students members, but also to educate our whole student body,” said Lois Saunders, principal at Vanier.

“If individuals are having difficulties they can go to our Students 4 Action group, but we also want to actively educate not only our high school, but also our elementary schools where (bullying) starts.”

The Students 4 Action group is comprised of Grades 8-11 students who were trained in Beyond the Hurt (BTH), a Canadian Red Cross bullying prevention resource.

“It talks about the different types of bullying, such as power issues in bullying, what's the difference between harassment and discrimination, inclusion,” Saunders said about BTH. “It’s so the Students 4 Action group can talk about a wide range of issues that lead to bullying … appearance, popularity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation.

We want to create an inclusive environment.”

With cyber-bullying increasing in frequency, both HTCSD and PSSD feel the need to discuss the topic with students is important.

As an administrator, Saunders notes it can be a challenge, but through the Students 4 Action group she is hopeful that all forms of bullying can be identified and mediated as quickly as possible.

“I believe that when it's students teaching other students, or students supporting their peers, they are going to listen more,” said Saunders. “We've had lots of programs and we've done lots of addressing our students about social media bullying, but I think when they hear it from their peers it's going to make a difference.”

PSSD is also participating in a new initiative this year: the Partners Against Violence 'Be Someone' campaign.  

“This is a local group working to reduce and eliminate violence and bullying in our communities,” said PSSD communications co-ordinator Darby Briggs. “The Be Someone campaign encourages local businesses to 'be someone' and take a stand against bullying. 

“We'll be displaying posters, decals and the signed pledge in our buildings. It's just one small way that we can show support for our schools and work together to create a safer learning environment for everyone.”

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Prairie South School Division, Holy Trinity Catholic School Division, Students 4 Action Royal Bank of Canada Olympian

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Friendly

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