It was a sea of pink that took to Estevan’s downtown, marching in waves against bullies in all areas of our lives.
Pink Shirt Day was marked April 4 with students and community members, of between 800 and 1,000 by organizer’s estimates, wearing pink T-shirts in an effort to take a stand against bullying in schools and the workplace. Pink Shirt Day started after a high school student was teased for wearing pink. Shortly afterward, two other students handed out pink shirts to others in order to show their support for the victimized student.
According to Shannon Culy, a school counsellor with the Holy Family Catholic School Division and organizer of the event, it’s an issue that should get the attention it deserves.
“I think it’s something that kids talk about, need to talk about,” Culy said. “We need to keep that awareness going. It isn’t something that just happens on one day where we all wear pink. It’s something we always need to keep on the forefront. We need to be respectful. We need to stand up, and we can’t sit back anymore.”
Students from both elementary and secondary schools attended the march that began at the courthouse.
“Days like this are important to have because bullying is obviously something that is happening in our schools,” said Brayden Gervais, a Grade 11 ECS student, adding, “so I think it’s important to spread this good message to kids and help eliminate bullying in our schools.”
Gervais also spoke about the Challenge Day that the high school brought in for the Grade 9 students last month. It was a three-day program that dealt directly with bullying and the idea of respect among all students.
“I wasn’t part of Challenge Day, but I heard it was very successful. I think a lot of kids learned a lot, and it was a good experience for our school.”
Challenge Day is something that organizers hope will continue in subsequent years as a program that all their Grade 9 students go through when entering the school.
Gervais said there is bullying that happens at ECS, but added that he feels the school is taking steps to address it and that it may be changing attitudes already.
“I think it’s been a lot better. I think the high school is doing an excellent job with programs like Challenge Day and this bullying march to help stomp out bullying. There’s still bullying, but I think it’s beginning to subside.”
George Barker, community outreach co-ordinator for the Red Cross, said that in speaking to some of the students who were there, the message of what Pink Shirt Day is had gotten across.
“Our goals are accomplished when we (educate) and people are fully aware, and put it into practise.”
He said students had told him they have seen a bit of a change already happening in their schools.
Culy was pleased with how the march unfolded and hopes that it will continue on a regular basis.
“It went fantastic. It was great to see all the kids out here, and it was great to see all the pink.”
The organizers, through the Red Cross and Holy Family Catholic School Division, had been working to get everything organized since last fall, but the last few weeks were when the finer details came together.
“It really started to come together in the last few weeks. We had kids distribute posters downtown and get final invitations out,” said Culy.
See www.estevanmercury.ca for video coverage of the event.