Pink Shirt Day spreads anti-bullying message
Innisfail students and teachers join nation to raise awareness that bullying is not tolerated
Tuesday, Mar 04, 2014 06:00 am
The gospel of anti-bullying is not just limited to bullying awareness month in October but extends year-round and countrywide.
Pink Shirt Day was celebrated nationally on Feb. 26 and local schools participated, with St. Marguerite Bourgeoys School, Innisfail Middle School, and the combined Innisfail Jr/Sr High donning pink to send the message out that bullying will not be tolerated.
Every teacher at Innisfail Jr/Sr High wore his or her pink shirt proudly.
“We had good participation from our teachers and school kids,” said Narsh Ramrattan, vice-principal of Innisfail Jr/Sr High. “Our school takes bullying very seriously.”
Students at St. Marguerite Bourgeoys School displayed their pink T-shirts and flashes of the colour were everywhere from shoes to hats throughout the day.
“At École John Wilson Elementary School, we try to incorporate five character pillars throughout the year,” said Jackie Taylor, school principal. “We weave lessons on respect, responsibility, cooperation, caring, and truth and trustworthiness into our curriculum and assemblies. Focusing on the positive aspects of behaviours at this young age, instead of negative aspects associated with bullying, is more productive.”
Innisfail Middle School is similar in its approach to bullying, but it has an ace up its sleeve.
“Our program never quits addressing the issues associated with bullying,” said Gloria Thompson, Innisfail Middle School vice-principal. “We bring in special speakers and have ongoing education surrounding bullying behaviours.”
She noted there is a difference between one-off instances and bullying which are often all called ‘bullying’ incorrectly.
“There are normal circumstances where kids are teased, or conflicts do occur and these are wrongly labelled. Quite often, we find when real bullying happens, the person bullied can often be a bully to others at different times,” said Thompson. “We try to work with both parties if possible.”
Logan Vanderham, a student teacher at Innisfail Middle School has a vested interest in Pink Shirt Day.
“I’m working on a website project for my education degree called Peer Power that deals with bullying,” said Vanderham, who is currently a student himself at the University of Lethbridge. “There is information on bullying behaviours, information on coping with bullies, and opportunities for students to interact and enter into discussion.”
Vanderham noted he does not have an opportunity to interact with all 450 students at the Innisfail public school but his Peer Power project allows him to work with those students who have logged in to his site.
“Bullying is a behaviour that has always been around,” said Vanderham. “Hopefully, projects like mine and long-term educational programs will change the way everyone sees and copes with the problem.”