Pink Party celebrates self-love
Thursday, Feb 22, 2018 06:00 am
Airdrie youth who are looking for a way to celebrate self-love and stand up to bullying can attend the Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie’s (BGCA) Pink Party, which will be held free of charge at the BGCA Centre from 4 to 6 p.m. on Pink Day, Feb. 28.
“Every year, we try and do something that will bring our youth together – kids in the community that may be affected by bullying, may have been witness to bullying, or just want to bring awareness to bullying,” said Jessica Nash, manager of events and volunteer co-ordination with BGCA.
Previous events have included dances that have been held later in the day, but Nash said this year, BGCA wanted to make the event more accessible to younger kids. The event will still include dancing, as well as a variety of other activities and a talk with Mayor Peter Brown.
Kids are encouraged to come out with their pink shirts on, and Pink Day bracelets will be sold at the event.
“We’re starting to see bullying happening earlier and earlier in schools, so it was important for us to bring in these little ones and help them learn to recognize what bullying is, and how they can stand up to someone if they are being bullied,” Nash said.
Part of the issue, she said, is that kids aren’t just dealing with bullying on the playground or at school – it happens online, too. This year, Alberta Red Cross is focusing on cyberbullying for Pink Day, and Nash said it’s important for kids to know what online bullying looks like.
“It’s terrifying, because it’s so easy to do when people don’t have to show an identity – they can just hide behind a keyboard and really ruin another child’s life,” she said.
“We want to help build them up and make them strong, so they know it’s OK to stand up for themselves and for their friends.”
She added it’s also important to address the issue outside of the school or the home, since bullying is a community concern. By rooting the initiative in community and bringing awareness to everyone, Nash said BGCA can put the responsibility back on parents and caregivers as well as youth.
“Let’s be honest – bullying doesn’t stop when you’re out of high school,” she said.
“People might not realize that their kid is a bully, and maybe, by coming to something like this, they can better recognize the problem and work to stop it right there.”
It also helps kids see for themselves what bullying means. Nash shared her own personal experience with bullying at last year’s party, and she said she was touched to see the way the youth responded to her story.
“I really think this event has made a difference for kids, because there are some kids who don’t even realize that they’re being bullies,” she said.
“Maybe it’s behaviour they’ve learned at home, behaviour they’re experiencing from siblings, or even something they just saw on TV – but they don’t understand that their words are hurting someone.”
The Pink Party, she said, helps provide kids with the tools to recognize bullying and the impacts it has on everyone – and learn positive steps to help stop bullies and “put them in their place.” The earlier kids can learn this, she said, the better.
“We’ve been doing our Pink Parties for years now, and I feel like each year, we just get bigger and better and we get more awareness out there – which really is the main goal,” Nash said.