Chestermere youth group gearing up for Pink Shirt Day
Monday, Feb 13, 2017 02:58 pm
Chestermere’s Youth Encouraging Lasting Leadership (YELL) group, run through Chestermere Synergy, is working hard to get ready for Pink Shirt Day on Feb. 22, selling buttons promoting its anti-bullying message at various locations in the city.
According to Program Co-ordinator Christy Redl, the campaign, called Pretty in Pink, is run throughout the month of February.
“People can purchase Pretty in Pink buttons to help support anti-bullying causes in the community,” she said. “This is a youth-run campaign, run by the YELL youth council. Every year they select a charity or organization that they want to donate the money to that supports anti-bullying in our community or that anti-bullying (initiatives) can access.”
This year, YELL has chosen to support the Chestermere Therapy Dogs Society, which brings dogs into middle and high schools to help support kids who are struggling, whether that be with reading, social anxiety or stress.
“For a lot of our youth, they’ve been able to have a lot of interaction with the therapy dogs to allow them to get through exams or any time they’re feeling stressed and they really understand the preventative nature of this,” Redl said.
“When they have that support, they’re less likely to encounter situations either where they’re inclined to be unkind to other people or where they’re having to get people to understand they can’t handle it.”
The buttons are for sale in a variety of locations in Chestermere, including Chestermere City Hall, Chestermere Parent Link Centre and Chestermere High School. They are also available at My Bakery Shop in Langdon. The buttons sell for a suggested donation of $2 for children or youth and $5 for adults.
David Shepherd and Travis Price of Berwick, N.S., who bought and distributed 50 pink shirts after a Grade 9 student at their school was bullied for wearing a pink shirt, started Pink Shirt Day in 2007. The movement has spread worldwide since then.
According to the Province of Alberta’s Human Services website, bullying is defined as “a conscious, wilful, deliberate, repeated and hostile activity marked by an imbalance of power, intent to harm and/or threat of aggression.”
In 2016, YELL set up a Pink Shirt Day display at Prairie Winds Elementary School in Chestermere to help spread their anti-bullying message. This year the group will be at three different schools on Pink Shirt Day and again on Feb. 28 to conduct anti-bullying assemblies for the students. The group will be visiting Khalsa School, Prairie Waters Elementary School and Rainbow Creek Elementary School.
According to Redl, YELL currently has approximately 10 members ages 13 to 17. In the past, the group has advised Chestermere city council on a variety of youth issues.
“They do a lot of leadership work. They do a ton of volunteering in the community,” Redl said. “They do some of their own initiatives...where they do a bit of fundraising and give back to a cause that’s important to them.”
Chestermere Synergy provides information to parents who believe their child is being bullied, according to Redl. More information is available online at truesynergy.ca or by calling 403-207-7048.
Calling 211 – Alberta’s community and social services hotline – or the Alberta Children’s Hospital or Distress Centre in Calgary are also good options, according to Redl. Bully Free Alberta provides a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week hotline at 1-888-456-2323.
More information about the Chestermere Therapy Dogs Society is available online at ctds.