A Sea of Pink
Like any recognizable calendar marker, Pink Shirt Day has its own origins story. What is now widely recognized as a day to come together to make schools safe and welcoming environments for everyone, came from humble beginnings not that long ago.
In 2007, in small-town Nova Scotia, High School students David Shepard and Travis Prince witnessed a younger student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. Dumbfounded and offended by the callous actions of their classmates, David and Travis and a few other members of the student body, decide that they would all wear pink to school the next day in a show of solidarity.
Now, over 15 years later, each February you'll find a sea of pink in schools across our country, and even the world.
At CFIS we celebrate Pink Shirt Day and recognize that preventing bullying starts with creating healthy friendships and an inclusive environment. This is why, for several years now, our elementary division has expanded Pink Shirt Day into a week that promotes healthy friendships through activities to foster them. Our student-led Pink Shirt Committee dedicates many hours to planning all the details.
They start with the understanding that bullying is "an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening."
By choosing to focus on healthy friendships instead of bullying, we educate students with vocabulary and actions that they can use to support one and other, ask for support, show kindness and recognize when their own needs are being met, and when they are not. We talk about the importance of recognizing the difference between a "mean moment" or teasing, versus a much more serious matter.
We also use this opportunity to foster conversations with students, in age-appropriate ways, around what a healthy friendship looks like to them. In our Grade 1 classes, for example, students have brainstormed examples of acts of kindness, small things we can do to make someone's day better - like sharing, helping someone when they're hurt, and opening the door for others. In Grades 2 to 4, students read books to prompt discussions about including others. Including, as one student suggested, if you notice someone looks sad, you could ask if they want to play with you during recess. Our Grade 5 and 6s discuss what being a good friend looks like. That by accepting and celebrating each other's differences, we can gain more understanding for one and another.
It goes without saying that school should feel safe for everyone - that no one should ever feel afraid to attend class.
At CFIS, we are dedicated to making our halls a happy place for our students and that we are sending more kindness out into the world. Perhaps, more than ever, these are lessons that we could all benefit from.
To learn more about the learning environment at CFIS, contact our Admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.