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Two anti-bullying initiatives coming to Airdrie in June

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jun 12, 2014 11:03 am

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Bullying continues to be a hot-button issue and two upcoming initiatives aim to gather community input and highlight the serious impact that bullying has on an individual.

“This is a very important issue and a very complex one,” said Winston Blake, managing director of Peer Mediation and Skills Training (PMAST), a Calgary-based non-profit organization and anti-bullying and dispute management solution provider.

PMAST and the Airdrie Bullying Awareness Program (ABAP) are coming together to offer a free community open house on June 18 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Echo Room of Genesis Place Recreation Centre.

Blake said the open house will give Airdronians the opportunity to learn about the relationship between PMAST and ABAP, give an overview of the antibullying initiative they hope to develop in Airdrie, and survey participants on what they think are the target areas for the initiative.

“We will develop a process, program and initiative that fits Airdrie,” he said, adding this is a grassroots initiative from the people for the people.

He said for the program to be successful, the groups need to hear from the community and that it isn’t only a job for educators or police, but a responsibility of the whole community.

“We all have a role to play in this,” he said.

He said the open house will give community members the opportunity to learn about the Restorative Action Program (RAP), a Saskatoon community-driven initiative that deals with bullying and conflict in schools, which has been delivered to more than 5,000 youth and has shown some success in that community.

RAP includes several programs that teach communication skills, prevent and de-escalate bullying and conflict, develop better listening skills, facilitate cooperation from peers in resolving conflict, and apply conflict management strategies in school, at home, and in the community. It also offers mentorship services, leadership training and post-secondary readiness training.

“We are looking at making those same levels of success in Airdrie and area,” Blake said.

He said a major success of RAP is the 10 per cent peer referral rate for the program, which he said indicates youth are becoming engaged citizens who are displaying empathy.

“(With bullying) kids know before adults what is going on,” Blake said.

“By us seeing that 10 per cent, that really speaks to the idea of youth taking ownership and saying, ‘I do care,’”

He said the program is about creating a community of good citizens who care about the welfare of each other and the community.

The open house is open to all ages and Blake said the group wants both the youth and adult’s input.

“This is an opportunity to engage high school students in dealing with issues of bullying and conflict,” he said. He said following the open house, the groups will compile the information, develop a work plan and share the information and plan with the community.

For more information on PMAST, visit pmast.org

Rally comes to Airdrie

A second initiative will be making a stop in Airdrie on June 21 at 11:30 a.m. in front of City Hall, where Manwar Khan of Edmonton will bring his province-wide antibullying rally to the city.

Khan said in an email to Airdrie City View, the rally is a way to show support for victims of bullying and let them know Albertans care, will not keep quiet and will fight against bullying and violence.

“A bullying incident may last only for a few seconds or minutes, however, the impact of bullying may last forever,” Khan said. He said the purpose of the rally is to empower the victims of bullying and violence and to spread his message, ‘Do not be a bystander.’


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