Taking a stand against bullying

Lisa Goudy
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Travis Price, co-founder of Pink Shirt Day, interacts with some kids at the student rally at YaraCentre on April 9, 2014, which was Day of Pink.

Travis Price, co-founder of Pink Shirt Day, speaks to students

Travis Price spent a lot of time alone when he was bullied.

In 2007 in Nova Scotia, he and his friend David Shepherd decided to organize a movement after a student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.

“We wanted to do something for him, but we didn’t want to be reactive and say, ‘We’re going to beat up the bullies.’ We wanted to make a statement proactively,” said Price. “That’s where the idea of going out and buying and wearing pink shirts with the idea that they can’t bully all of us. Since then it’s grown.”

Six million people in 13 countries stand in solidarity for the annual Day of Pink every April 9.

On Wednesday, Price was one of the speakers at the student rally at YaraCentre for 400 students from Moose Jaw and Rouleau.

“It’s a worldwide movement and it’s all because of a simple act of kindness,” said Price. “It’s mind blowing … (I know) how important it is that we stand up for one another because we are all affected by this issue.”

As the co-founder of the Pink Shirt Day movement, he said the day is centered on raising awareness for anti-bullying and working together to put a stop to all forms of bullying.

“My biggest thing is I don’t want that bullied kid to feel alone,” said Price. “That’s really why I travel the world and share my story.”

When he was in Grade 1, Price was bullied for the first time. By Grade 7, the situation escalated where he got “beat up really badly,” so much so that he transferred schools, he said.

He added in Grade 8 at his new school, he thought he might “always be the target” of bullying. However, one girl named Ashley came up to him and talked to him.

Later, when a few people found out why he transferred schools and started bullying him, Ashley came along and asked them to stop.

“Myself being bullied and growing up being that kid, I know what it’s like," said Price. "I know how alone I felt and how one person in Grade 8 was able to make a difference for me, how two words made a difference in my life.

“It gave me a glimmer of hope that things could be better. So we get these group of kids together, they’re all wearing pink, they’re all part of one another and they’re all supporting the same thing.”

Miranda Biletski, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Olympian, was another speaker at the event.

“I think it’s a great cause. I think if kids have a face that’s relatable and they can put a face to bullying and overcoming it, I just think that’s huge,” she said. “I wish something was around like this when I was this age. I think it’s something that not only kids can learn from, but even adults can.”

On June 6, 2005, Biletski dove into the pool at the University of Regina, hit the bottom and had a broken C-6 vertebra. Two years later, she started playing wheelchair rugby and has been with the Canadian program since 2009.

Her presentation on Wednesday focused on her personal experience with bullying and the obstacles overcome and lessons learned.

“I got picked on in high school to the point of changing schools. The only regret that I really have is not telling someone sooner,” said Biletski. “Once the school got involved it really stopped. So that’s my message for kids: tell someone. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone. It does get better ... Never let anyone tell you that you can't do anything.”

Moose Jaw was Biletski’s third and final stop on the Saskatchewan tour, an experience she said was positive.

“After I’d been in Saskatoon I had a girl come up to me and give me a hug and say I changed her life,” she said. “That’s what really matters.”

For more event coverage, see the story Wearing pink to change lives.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Royal Bank of Canada, University of Regina

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan

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