Carol Todd to speak at anti-bullying event in Fraser Valley

Amanda Todd’s mother wants parents to reconsider the amount of screen time their families have

Carol Todd knows all too well the pain that can come from childhood bullying, and now she’s coming to town with a call to action for Chilliwack parents.

In 2012, after years of cyberbullying, Todd’s daughter, Amanda, committed suicide. And while many parents could have been destroyed by the weight of their grief, Todd used hers to create a lasting legacy in Amanda’s name that strives to end bullying in all its forms.

READ MORE: Legacy of Amanda Todd lives on through B.C. foundation

Now her efforts are bringing her into the heart of the Fraser Valley to offer a call to action for local parents about the amount of screen time the entire family is engaging in.

“The average teenager spends nine hours a day online,” said Todd during a telephone interview. “They have broken sleep, they’re gaming, they’re texting.”

But kids aren’t picking this behaviour on their own, says Todd, they’re often learning it from parents or other family members.

“A TIME online (article) said 54 per cent of kids in the USA feel they spend too much time online … and parents themselves also feel they spend too much time on devices. It’s hypocritical to ask our children to stop while continuing to use (these devices) ourselves,” Todd continued.

“Parents have (helped to) create this whole problem. (There are) young kids are going into school who are lacking fine motor skills (because) they’re not being given the LEGO, the beads, or Play-Doh.”

With an eye on the past, Todd isn’t suggesting we forego visual entertainment, but instead turning it into an experience for the entire family.

“Let’s bring back the DVDs,” she said. “I remember renting movies with my kids. That was time together, it was conversation face to face. Even going to the library and choosing books (can be a memorable experience).”

That said, Todd recognizes the power of technology and how embedded it is in our society, which is part of the message she has for Chilliwack’s moms and dads.

“It’s not always about teaching the kids because they’re too young,” said Todd. “It’s about teaching the parents.”

READ MORE: Melding martial arts and anti-bullying

And Brigette and Fred MacKenzie agree, which is why they’re hosting the anti-bullying event that Todd will be speaking at.

Open to the entire community, and free of charge, the event takes place on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m., at the University of Fraser Valley’s Gathering Place in Chilliwack’s Canada Education Park.

Moved by the plight of children who are bullied either in person or online, the MacKenzies have been working for years to create not only anti-bullying momentum in the area, but a conversation around the issue as a whole.

“I remember being so affected by Amanda Todd’s story,” said Brigette MacKenzie, who co-owns the Chilliwack Chito-Ryu karate school with her husband, Fred. “So I reached out.”

That was in 2015, and now, three years later, Todd and the MacKenzies are still diligently working at eliminating bullying and cyberbulling in Chilliwack.

“(And) now we have a long relationship with Carol Todd—we’re business friends,” explained MacKenzie from inside the Chito-Ryu dojo.

READ MORE: B.C. parents to get online assistance on cyberbullying

“We really (appreciate) her call to action now,” continued MacKenzie. “We need to get kids off screens, more active, involved with their communities, which will help their personal development.”

That’s why, in addition to Carol Todd, Chris Cassamassa will also be attending the event.

Cassamassa, who earned is first degree black belt at 10, is legendary among some martial arts circles. Working his way into Hollywood, he was Batman’s stunt double in 1997’s Batman & Robin, and now he’s using his skills to help combat bullying with his KICKNFIT KIDS program, of which the MacKenzies are licensed instructors.

Sensei Fred MacKenzie demonstrates respect for one’s self and others while teaching young children Chito-Ryu, a form of karate. (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

Although it’s a health- and fitness-based program, KICKNFIT KIDS also strives to arm kids with “bully busting self-defense moves.”

“Very often we have students who are either bullied or bullies themselves,” said Sensei Fred MacKenzie, who’s reached the level of Shihan, or Master Teacher.

But after immersing themselves in Martial arts training, the kids change, said Sensei MacKenzie.

“Having that knowledge gives them control of their environments, teaches them how to defend themselves against bullies, and helps develop an air of self-confidence.

“And when they have that self-confidence, they don’t seem to be as bothered by bullies … (and former) bullies are molded into different (people),” added Sensei MacKenzie.

READ MORE: Teach online safety in school, experts say

“Sometimes I think we’ve done the word (“bullying”) to death,” said Todd.

“You can have all the anti-bullying conferences you want, but (we) really need to talk about mind and heart and how you should interact with people online and offline.

“It’s all about the behaviours of the person,” she concluded. But “it’s not always about teaching the kids because they’re too young. It’s about teaching the parents, (which) takes time, but we definitely have to do it.”

For more information about Sept. 8’s anti-bullying event, please visit ChilliwackChitoRyu.com.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cloverdale Toastmasters celebrate 25 years of learning and laughter

Cloverdale club is a high achieving, yet laid-back Toastmasters group

McCallum’s canal pitch took Surrey councillors by surprise

City government has more important issues pressing than building a canal, councillors say

Crime Stoppers urges Lower Mainland residents to check these 9 safety items every night

Home security tips demonstrated at Cloverdale house on Wednesday

Surrey RCMP conducting drug-related search warrant

Traffic closed in both directions on 128th Street, between 64th and 66th Avenue

Queen Elizabeth students hit $100K in donations to Surrey Hospital Foundation

Secondary students have been raising funds for a decade through the Roots & Rhythms event

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Girl, 10, poisoned by carbon monoxide at B.C. campsite could soon return home

Lucille Beaurain died and daughter Micaela Walton, 10, was rushed to B.C. Children’s Hospital on May 18

30 years later: B.C. woman uses sidewalk chalk to reclaim site of her sexual assault

Vancouver woman didn’t think her powerful story, written in chalk, would ignite such support

Most Read