St. Albert students will don pink shirts, boogie down and crack eggs this Wednesday to help raise each other up during this time of the pandemic.
Students across Alberta will pull on their pink shirts Feb. 24 to celebrate Pink Shirt Day.
Pink Shirt Day started in 2007 when two Nova Scotia students got their classmates to wear pink to support a boy bullied for wearing a pink shirt. It has since become a global day to encourage people to take a stand against bullying. This year, the event’s organizers have encouraged participants to “lift each other up” by helping one another and advocating for those who need support.
Many St. Albert schools have rolled Pink Shirt Day into other campaigns meant to teach students to be better citizens.
For example, Lois E. Hole Elementary students have spent the past month assembling a mural in their gym as they learned about gratitude, said vice-principal Tammy Schepens. Students write down one thing they are grateful for each day on a coloured paper heart and stick it to the mural, which by Pink Shirt Day should form an amazing menagerie of rainbows, flowers and trees.
Focusing on gratitude helps raise morale during these difficult times, Schepens said.
“When we have grateful hearts and we’re kind and we’re inclusive, there’s actually no room for bullying to grow.”
Pink Shirt Day itself will see school phys-ed teacher Kyler Boisvert lead Lois Hole students in their traditional mass dance party, which this year would happen in the school’s classrooms instead of its gym due to the pandemic.
The day after Pink Shirt Day will see students play Egg Roulette against their teachers to raise money for the Stollery Children’s Hospital, Schepens said. The event is a replacement for the Hair Massacure, which was cancelled this year due to the pandemic.
Egg Roulette is like Russian Roulette except with eggs, Schepens explained. Every $2 a student donates to the Stollery gets them one entry into a draw to play against one of 10 teachers. Players take turns selecting an egg from a dozen laid out before them to mash against their heads. If they’re lucky, they’ll get one of the eight cooked ones. If they’re not, they’ll lose and be drenched in raw egg.
“This is just a light way to have kids laugh,” Schepens said, adding the school would also make a donation to the St. Albert Food Bank to make up for the wasted eggs.
Joseph M. Demko students have made Pink Shirt Day part of their Diversity Week, which includes a hat-based fundraiser for Stop Abuse in Families and a guest speaker for Black History Month, said principal Les Kirchner.
“A lot of kids get bullied because of the colour of their skin or their sexual orientation,” Kirchner said, which is why Demko students learn year-round see the uniqueness in others.
“Pink Shirt (Day) recognizes that everyone is their own individual, and we need to make sure we’re treating everyone equally and fairly.”
Wild Rose Elementary principal Derek Herman said the pandemic has indirectly reduced bullying through the cohort system, which keeps students in the same peer groups all day. By spending every minute together, students have deepened their bonds with each other and come closer together.
“Our recess issues are almost non-existent,” Herman said.
The pandemic is forcing people to have those conversations about race and relations that are at the heart of Pink Shirt Day, Schepens said.
“We’re trying to have kids understand the importance that we accept one another no matter what we’re wearing, no matter our race or our gender. We’re in this together and we need to be kind and inclusive.”
Visit www.pinkshirtday.ca for details on Pink Shirt Day.