An elementary school in Langdon will be taking its annual stand against bullying on Feb. 23, in a campaign that will be celebrated countrywide as Pink Shirt Day.
On that day, staff and students will be encouraged to wear pink and demonstrate a commitment to anti-bullying awareness in their communities.
“RVS is committed to creating welcoming, caring, respectful, safe and inclusive learning environments for all children,” said RVS Superintendent Greg Luterbach, in a press release sent by the public school division.
“Bullying can have a detrimental effect on the emotional and mental well-being of students, which can directly impact their ability to learn, belong and succeed. By participating in anti-bullying initiatives like Pink Shirt Day, we reinforce a positive school culture of kindness where everyone can feel safe and welcome.”
Pink Shirt Day is an anti-bullying campaign observed on the last Wednesday of February. According to the organization’s website, the event began in 2007 in Nova Scotia, after a male student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. Two older students wore pink shirts the following day in a show of solidarity.
Since then, the annual Pink Shirt Day campaign has been recognized annually, and has grown to include fundraising initiatives to support anti-bullying programs across western Canada.
Because Feb. 23 is a division holiday this year, many schools in Rocky View County have already participated in Pink Shirt Day initiatives.
One such example is Sarah Thompson School, a kindergarten to Grade 5 school in Langdon. The school’s child development advisor, Sheena Noppen, said the students have prepared for the annual campaign in a few different ways.
She said a student-led group known as the Acceptance Club led the charge on Pink Shirt Day this year, creating a video to promote positivity and inclusion.
“It’s a student-led club of Grade 5 students, where they try to spread kindness and positive messages about inclusion,” Noppen said. “They read some stories, recorded them, and we sent those [videos] out to the classes.”
According to Noppen, Sarah Thompson School also holds an annual colouring contest every year. The contest tasks students with designing a logo for the school’s pink shirts, which are then sold in the community to be worn on Pink Shirt Day.
Since students won’t actually be in class on Pink Shirt Day this year, Noppen said a unique idea the Acceptance Club came up with was to create “kindness hearts.” She said the hearts were distributed to Sarah Thompson School’s classrooms, and students were asked to decorate them with message of kindness.
Then, she said Buy Low Foods has partnered with the school to distribute the kindness hearts in shoppers’ grocery bags on Feb. 23.
“I just think it’s a fantastic message,” said Noppen, referring to Pink Shirt Day. “Throughout the entire year, we do focus on inclusion, acceptance and kindness, but [Pink Shirt Day] is a great reminder to push that out at this time.
“We are an elementary school with young kids, but bullying can happen anywhere, so it’s a great message for students to come together as a collective and show their support for something like this.”