The Boys and Girls Club of Fredericton took a different approach to Pink Shirt Day this year.
The club emphasized themes like removing the power from the bully and taught kids to show more compassion, kindness, positivity and gratitude towards each other throughout the month of February leading up to Pink Shirt Day, which was Feb. 22. The day is dedicated to raising awareness for anti-bullying.
Amanda Audette, the program manager for the club, wanted to go a step further than just celebrating a day of anti-bullying awareness. She decided to hold several different activities to do just that.
“Instead of a day, why don’t we focus for a month, and why don’t we focus on ways to help them so that we are taking power away from the bully,” said Audette.
“We’re empowering these kids and youth to have the tools, to show a little more kindness, to be a little more compassionate so maybe there is less teasing, less bullying, and less opportunity [for bullying].”
One hundred youth were reached out to spread the message of anti-bullying across alone with the help of The Boys and Girls Club.
Nathan Peardon, an education student at St. Thomas University, said that by starting at a younger age – especially in elementary school – we can take the issues kids face with bullying and reinforcing the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all” mentality.
“The more calibration kids have with one another, the more accepting they will be of diversity, and the more accepting they will be of their peers in their classes,” he said.
Peardon also said kids may not learn anything about anti-bullying per se, but they learn to create a classroom community where everyone respects each other.
Julia Wilson, a group leader at the club, said she has seen changes from when she was a child in how bullying is treated and prevented.
“When I was a kid, there was quite a bit of focus on discipline,” she said.
“Now we try to understand kids’ perspectives and let them take leadership roles at younger ages rather than the dynamic which is the teacher is in charge and the children listen.”
Audette said with the regular programming at the club, they try to focus on the positive side of things and make sure leaders are role models for kids and that they are having the necessary conversations with them to ensure the language stays familiar with them, which can keep them more accountable for their actions.
Wilson added that being a friend and being nice means more than just treating friends with respect.
“It’s about being nice to everyone.”