The anti-bullying fight is alive and well, thanks to the annual Pink Shirt Day in Canada. The campaign, begun in Canada by two Nova Scotia teens in 2007 determined to support a Grade 9 student who had been bullied for choosing to wear a pink shirt, has become an annual event. Pink Shirt Day is held yearly, and students and businesspeople alike are encouraged to wear pink in support of the fight against bullying.
According to www.pinkshirtday.ca, David Shepherd, Travis Price and several of their friends went out and purchased 75 pink tank tops and began distributing them to their friends the day after a Grade 9 student had been horribly mocked by bullies. The Grade 9 student saw the distribution of the pink shirts when he came into school the next day, and the bullies never bothered the student again.
Price, now 24, said the campaign was very educational for him. He said at the time that he learned that two people could run with a very simple ideas and it could inspire many. He continues to inspire those to stand behind the purpose of Pink Shirt Day, and has toured Canada to talk to schools about the importance of standing up against bullies.
As the anti-bullying fight continues with the seventh annual Pink Shirt Day, Price says he is impressed with the global support the movement has garnered. In 2013, nearly seven million worldwide participated in the initiative. He recalls one incident in Nova Scotia where a student was being bullied for having a facial tumor; he brought a Pink Shirt Day event to her school, and the girl told him that he had made a real difference in her life by implementing the event.
Price is encouraging students to realize that there is always someone there to help them if they are being tormented and asks them to realize they can reach out for help. Bullying legislation has now been introduced in several nations globally, and in Canada, several school boards are introducing policies that are firmer in their stance against bullying-style behaviors.
Funds raised from the sale of Pink Shirt Day t-shirts go toward supporting non-profit organizations such as Kids Help Phone, which is devoted to giving troubled youth a place where they can voice their concerns about things that are troubling them so that they do not take extreme action to escape the mental pain they might be enduring. Fundraising efforts last year netted the organization $275,000 for resources, like Kids Help Phone, to help troubled youth who might be dealing with bullying.
Price, who spearheaded the anti-bullying fight in 2007 with the first annual Pink Shirt Day, says he is pleased to see that the movement has gone global and that an increasing number of schools across Canada are inspired to take on the fight against bullying. Anti-bullying initiatives are becoming more commonplace, with the most recent one occurring in the Miami Dolphins’ organization following the alleged bullying incident of Jonathan Martin by Richie Incognito. Anti-bullying initiatives are not just at the school level anymore; they are campaigns where businesses, schools and other organizations are working to stop the harassment or bullying occurring.
By Christina St-Jean