In the lead up to Pink Shirt Day, some Surrey children have created posters with anti-bullying messaging.
Through the City of Surrey MYzone Peer Mentorship program, kids aged eight to 12 created a campaign designed specifically for social media, said Jessica Danyk, youth engagement co-ordinator.
“They felt that they wanted to reach a broad base of people, so they felt the best way to do that was through social media. Their campaign is designed specifically for social media. It’s meant to be a digital campaign,” she said. “They drew the pictures themselves on paper, and then staff used a digital programming software to create the picture into a digital form.”
The peer mentorship program, Danyk said, is to “engage that age group in more leadership-based activities and get them involved in creating action projects for their community.” She said the project could be different depending on the group, but they can do “essentially whatever they want, what they feel passionate about” in their community.”
“So this particular group felt passionate about bullying and most of the kids in the camp had either been bullied themselves or had a close friend that had been bullied before. There was a consensus amongst the group that this was something that they wanted to tackle together.”
Some of the posters showed kids getting bullied through social media, while others described what steps children could take to stand up against bullying.
Through the nine-week program, Danyk said, the children get to build relationships with a teenager from a local high school, who gets to co-lead the program with staff.
“That way, these young people develop relationships with their older youth peers that are going to go to the same high school as them. It is a really nice relationship piece. Those youth reported a lot of positive feelings just about those mentors and the relationships that they had formed throughout the process,” she said.
“Because in having this discussion, they were sharing quite deep things around how they had been bullied and so did the youth as well, so they really bonded on that and created a really safe space to support one another and some strong peer-to-peer relationships.”
The children in the program have spent the past nine weeks creating the posters to coincide with the annual Pink Shirt, or Anti-Bullying Day, on Feb. 26.
Pink Shirt Day started in 2007 in Nova Scotia after Grade 12 students David Shepherd, Travis Price and their friends saw a Grade 9 student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt.
In response, Shepherd and Price distributed pink shirts for other students to wear in solidarity.
This year’s focus is “lift each other up,” which is “a simple but powerful message encouraging us to look beyond our differences and celebrate the things that make us unique.”
According to Pink Shirt Day, one-in-five kids are affected by bullying.
One hundred per cent of the net proceeds are distributed to various organizations “that support children’s healthy self-esteem, both with peers and themselves.”