Wednesday’s anti-bullying flash mob was attended by elementary students from John Muir, Sooke and Ecole Poirier elementary schools.
Hundreds of students poured out into the street, holding anti-bullying signs that read “Bullying stops here,” “Be kind,” “Niceness is priceless,” and “It’s not cool: stop bullying.”
Teachers and volunteers kept the groups of children organized and safe. And the long line of traffic that slowly snaked past Sooke elementary — the hub for the flash mob — honked their horns in appreciation of this meaningful message being put out there by this massive group of children.
Three students from Grade five, Jaylin, Kara and Alexa (pictured) spoke as representatives from Sooke elementary.
Alexa was very clear on her reason for participating in the day’s mob.
“I’m standing up for people who are being bullied.”
Kara addressed the history of the movement. “We’re celebrating pink day. It’s made from two men from long ago and we’re carrying on tradition. And we wear pink to represent that we are against bullying. You don’t have to wear pink to be against bullying, but you should always stand up to bullies.”
The original story goes back to September, 2007 and was covered by CBC News (Sept. 19, 2007). An unidentified boy in Grade nine at a high school in Nova Scotia showed up on the first day of school wearing a pink polo shirt. As a result, he was teased and called names.
Two boys in Grade 12, David Shepherd and Travis Price, overheard this and decided to take action. They went to a local discount store and bought 50 cheap tee-shirts. They also sent out an email, soliciting their friends’ help in setting up a “sea of pink” anti-bullying campaign.
The next day was amazing, as many students in the school — more than they could have imagined — showed up wearing pink. The boy who was originally bullied for wearing the pink polo shirt was reportedly moved. And from there, news of the event spread monumentally, nationally and even internationally.
When asked if she has ever stood up against a bully, Kara said, “Yes, it works. You just have to try it.”
Jaylin recognizes the deeper symbolic intent behind wearing pink.
“The pink shirt is a symbol to stop bullying cause that’s how it all started. It’s a symbol saying, Whether I’m a girl or a boy I can wear pink and not get bullied.”
When asked if she ever stood up to a bully, Jaylin said, “I have, and that person felt like they didn’t have as much power as they thought before, they were shocked and like, ‘I didn’t know you really had it in you.’”
This day, as demonstrated by the boys who started the movement back in 2007, speaks to the power of the observer. When a bully will not stop their behaviour, and the bullied is powerless against that force, the power of determining a positive outcome can rest with the bystander. And on Feb. 27th, hundreds of elementary students flooded the main street in Sooke to say that they too will be an active bystander that is a part of the solution.
The event was well coordinated, and well-received by the many drivers who commute through the often traffic-clogged streets of Sooke.