RIVER HEBERT – Students at River Hebert District Elementary learned they have a lot to be proud of when they wore pink on Thursday.
© Christopher Gooding photo
While small in students size, River Hebert District Elementary students listened closely as Principal Vern Taylor explained it was students, just like them, that started the anti-bullying movement Pink Shirt Day that is now observed across Canada and in many other countries.
Across Canada it was National Pink Shirt Day – the nation’s nod to anti-bullying. For the kids in Primary to Grade 6, it might seem like another initiative under the Chignecto Central Regional School Board’s umbrella of anti-bullying and sensitivity programs – like Stand Up and Speak Out, or the W.I.T.S. program that sees local R.C.M.P. address the issue in schools, or the Roots of Empathy program – but this day marks something closer to them. That students, just like them, can make a difference.
“National Pink Shirt Day is celebrated around the world, but it started in Canada,” Principal Vern Taylor told Thursday’s assembly in the RHDE gym. “In fact it started in Nova Scotia when two boys in a high school called Central Kings Rural High saw something happen to a boy they didn’t even know and decided to do something about it.”
That was when a Grade 9 student, Charles McNeill, arrived wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school. McNeil was bullied for choosing to wear pink and David Shepherd and Travis Price of Berwick decided they would do something to stand up against bullying. They bought fifty pink shirts and gave them to their friends to wear as an act of solidarity and support for McNeil. The media attention Shepard and Price gained went international, with many provinces declaring the fourth Wednesday of February anti-bullying day, one of two showcased in Nova Scotia.
More importantly, the attention brought the consequences of bullying to the forefront like never before and now schools are developing emotional awareness as well as their academic education like never before.
“I think there’s an awareness going on that’s very positive,” Taylor said. “There’s lots of promotion through the schools and they are certainly more aware of the topic, consequences and ramifications, and what to do… there’s a lot more focus on emotional development plus academic development.”
Online, the National Pink Shirt Day headquarters can be found at http://www.pinkshirtday.ca.