Pink T-shirt Day is Feb. 25, and to mark the occasion 14 Lloydminster Comprehensive High School (LCHS) students will be going into the community to spread bullying awareness.
Pink T-shirt Day is an anti-bullying campaign that started in Nova Scotia in 2007, when students wore pink T-shirts in solidarity with a bullied student. LCHS has been taking part in Pink T-shirt Day since 2009 and the school is selling pink T-shirts and hoodies to mark the occasion, with proceeds going to the Lloydminster Community Youth Centre and Beyond Borders Circle of Change.
“It’s a campaign to make students and community members become aware of the bullying that happens within our schools and within our community,” LCHS counsellor Leanne Melnechenko said. “We’re not so naive to think that wearing a pink shirt really makes a difference, but it does make a difference in the sense that we start having people think about it.”
In December, LCHS students took part in a two-day anti-bullying training program put on by the Canadian Red Cross and on Feb. 23, the 14 Red Cross-certified bullying prevention youth facilitators will begin their campaign. Over the course of two weeks, they intend to hold 25 bullying awareness talks with elementary and middle schools classes across town.
“This is the second group. The original group was just six,” Melnechenko said. “We hope to train another eight in the spring. In a perfect world we would train every student that was interested.”
One of those interested students is Alyssa Wells. The Grade 11 student has been involved with anti-bullying efforts for “as long as (she) can remember.” She says it is important to reach out to children while they are still young.
“We can get the most work done when we’re working with the younger kids,” she said. “Once you’re up in the higher grades it’s kind of hard to get through to people. But being these older kids, we can inspire the younger kids to be nice to each other.”
Wells says the Red Cross program taught her about different types of bullying and how to communicate these issues to children. The group was also introduced to activities to lead children through to demonstrate the effects of bullying. Wells says these are messages that apply to students of all ages.
“We focus from Grade 3 to Grade 6, but we have gotten some requests to do the middle years as well, ” she said. “I’d love to present to really young kids and then move up into the older grades as well because it’s always important to get it out there.”
Wells says it is important for students to know that there are resources available to them and counsellors to turn to should the need arise.
“I just think that school is a place where you should go and be safe and escape everything that might be going on in the outside world and your home life,” she said.
“You should always feel like you’re safe and accepted here.”