Stopping bullying, one pink shirt at a time. (Image Credit: Twitter/@pinkshirtday)
'The Lovers & Fighters of America' is a weekly column here at Ravishly featuring behind-the-scenes stories of inspirational people taking a stance against hate.
This week for The Lovers & Fighters of America, we’re heading north of the border to find out more about who’s behind the Pink Shirt Day movement.
February 22, 2017, was Pink Shirt Day across Canada. This nationwide anti-bullying, campaign began in 2007 as a simple act of support for a bullied student.
At a small town high school in the province of Nova Scotia, a grade nine boy arrived on his first day wearing a pink polo shirt, and he was bullied because of it.
Travis Price and his friend David Shepherd, both seniors at the school, saw what was happening to the grade nine student and decided to take action. That night, the two teenagers went to a local discount store and purchased 50 pink shirts. They messaged friends, asking them to wear pink the following day and to spread the word.
The next morning, over 700 students wore pink to school to show their stance against bullying. Price and Shepherd handed out more pink shirts, and when the bullied boy arrived at school, he found many of his peers wearing pink.
Price described the boy’s reaction to The Globe and Mail at the time: “It looked like a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders," he said.
For years, Price himself had been a victim of bullying. In an interview with Shaw TV, he spoke of the bullying he had endured throughout his school life. It started in grade one and carried on until grade twelve. There were occasions when his parents had to step in and other times when Price fought his battles alone. He went to therapy sessions and learned strategies to help get him through the difficult times. He said: “I tried to find my own ways to deal with it. That is what I speak to kids about now, that experience that I went through with bullying and the things that I turned to, like music and video games, to get me through the day.”
Now, as co-founder of PinkShirtDay.ca, Price helps fundraise for organizations that support kids’ well-being in practical, hands-on ways, such as local YMCA programs which, in part, offer support to children prone to bullying, to help them build compassion, empathy, and more productive ways to deal with their emotions.
According to the Pink Shirt Day’s website, some boys (recently suspended from school for cyber-bullying) have been making positive steps forward, after going through the program. The website states, “As a part of the program they are encouraged to apologize to the person they had bullied. They not only apologized to their classmate and promised never to bully him again, they went one step further and vowed to do what they could to prevent this from happening to other students at their school.” It was also reported that one of the bullies had become friends with the victim.
Though Pink Shirt Day originated in eastern Canada, it is no longer just a Canadian-based movement. In 2012, the United Nations was inspired by Canada’s Pink Shirt Day, and they declared May 4th as the official day for anti-bullying.
Price and his colleagues offer guidance and support (on a global scale) to schools and organizations looking to implement a Pink Shirt Day themselves. Contact PinkShirtDay.ca for more information.
Travis Price took a stance against hate, back in 2007. Now, ten years later, he is still working towards building safer school environments. Bullying is an ever-growing concern, its effects can be dire, and our children need all the resources and support they can get!
Thanks to Travis and the Pink Shirt Day movement, more open conversations are happening, practical programs and resources are more available, bullied kids are feeling less alone, and bullies are getting the help they need to make better choices.
We are honored to feature Travis Price as this week’s inspirational lover & fighter in (North) America!
If you know an inspirational Lover & Fighter whom you’d like to see featured on Ravishly, send a message to Shannon Day, via Facebook.
Lovers & Fighters say "hell no" to racism, sexism, bigotry, and xenophobia. These men, women, and children are saying "heck yes" to equality, human decency, and love. From bold acts of advocacy to simple moments of goodness, these everyday people remind us of what it truly means to be American.
These lovers and fighters are resistant in the face of intolerance. They are bold in the presence of judgment. They are determined to join forces (or to stand proudly alone) to ensure their message is heard: #LoveTrumpsHate