If you walked into any school in Vernon Wednesday, you’d see a sea of pink shirts.
If you drove through Vernon that same day, you may have also spotted a pink RCMP police car. If you walked by the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Center, located on 32nd Avenue, you’d see pink cupcakes being sold.
Vernon RCMP, the Vernon School District and NOYFSS, among several other local community partners, all sported the colour Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a nationwide anti-bullying campaign.
Community supporter Rob Ellis, from Rellish Transport, was approached by the staff at Harwood Elementary last year, who wanted to provide every student and staff member with a pink shirt in an effort to speak up and stand together against bullying.
Ellis and fellow community partners came together to make that happen, providing the entire school with pink shirts designed by the students from Karyn Godard’s classroom. The image represented on the shirts was created by students who dipped their hands in paint to represent the idea that “everyone belongs and has a place in the community.”
“It about what we do for our community — kids, adults — we’re all there for everybody and we all have tough times and we all have amazingly great days and it’s embracing all of those things and helping each other every day,” Ellis said.
Within about two weeks, the initiative had raised about $20,000 in support of the campaign.
The program was so well received and resonated with so many students, Ellis and the community partners have since joined together again; however this year, they are providing shirts for six participating schools within the school district. A total of about 2,700 T-shirts were given out throughout the district.
Across town, NOYFSS was also hosting their own event to commemorate the day by selling pink cupcakes. This is the fourth year staff has baked cupcakes for fundraising for their anti-bullying program. This year, the team baked 480 cupcakes and were selling them outside their office from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m.
“Our anti-bullying program is called ‘Taking Care of You and Me’ and its a program where the kids learn the language of empathy and then practice it here and then actually practice it at Heron Grove and the kids go there and spend time with some of the clients there who have dementia,” said Jodi McGrandle, NOYFSS Program Coordinator. “It’s very cool to see the kids go there and develop and practice what they’ve learned here.”
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