A sea of pink shirts and pompoms filled the Education Building gym at the University of Saskatchewan Monday as hundreds of local students gathered in an effort to stamp out bullying.
Amid DJ music, break dancing and chants of ‘imagine no bullying,’ the kids in the gym were joined by hundreds of other students across the province who watched the live stream of the Red Cross Day of Pink rally.
The event comes just days ahead of Wednesday’s Pink Shirt Day, an anti-bullying awareness day which is now recognized around the world.
“Bullying is basically using our power in a negative way,” said Scott McHenry, a Red Cross bullying prevention ambassador, who added the key is healthy relationships. “We’re just trying to make (the kids) realize that in a healthy relationship, you don’t feel bad when you’re around someone.”
McHenry was joined by former Roughrider Dan Clark and Olympian Jessica Campbell who shared their experiences with bullying.
However, the story which hit home for many students was that of Chelsie Christison, an 18-year-old recent graduate and bully victim turned youth ambassador.
When her cousin and a friend ended their relationship, Christison said thought she could remain friends with both, but increasingly saw herself alienated by her friends. She said she began to dread going to school, but eventually reached out to others for help.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to people, talk to somebody, because it’s not easy to go through alone,” she said. “You don’t have to tell the world, but even if you just tell one person and they start to help you, the (bad) behaviour can end right then and there.”
For those who witness bullying she encouraged them to step in and “be someone’s hero,” whether by telling someone else or showing support for the victim.