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The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped many things – bullying isn’t one of them.
As a way to use up shirts leftover from previous anti-bullying campaigns and help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside is selling masks instead of T-shirts for this year’s Pink Shirt Day.
Pink Shirt Day, which takes place on Feb. 24, is a campaign to raise awareness about bullying.
The event began after a ninth-grade Nova Scotia student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt. The next day, two boys at the school brought pink shirts to school and distributed them to their fellow students to show their support and take a stand against bullying.
Adam Binkley, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside, said, officially, one in five kids is affected by bullying – he wouldn’t be surprised if the real number was higher.
That’s why pink shirt day is important, he said.
“Anti-bullying should be practiced every day,” said Binkley, “but to have this awareness for one day, where everyone is wearing pink, is pretty neat … and does make a world of difference.”
The Summerside club has participated in Pink Shirt Day for the last nine years. It takes the campaign beyond the single day, partnering with different organizations and bringing in guest speakers.
One of the club’s anti-bullying programs, “pick with me,” teaches club members how to play guitar while also being taught an anti-bullying message. It lasts 10-12 weeks, and participants get to keep their guitar when it’s done.
“They’re taught … how you can reduce bullying, how you can help someone who’s being bullied, [and] where to go,” said Binkley.
Binkley also said that those who bully often need support, as well.
Binkley said his club also tackles bullying by creating a sense of belonging. It provides 41 different programs, like hockey, card collecting and music groups to give members a common ground.
“If you’re in a group with peers who like the same thing, there’s less chance of you being bullied,” he said. “There’s a great opportunity to build self-worth and confidence.”
Pink Masks available for Pink Shirt Day (February 24th)! 2 sizes available, $10 each! Place your order online now at https://boysandgirlsclubofsummerside.com/purchase-a-pink-mask/Posted by Boys and Girls Club of Summerside on Tuesday, 12 January 2021
The masks, made by Pins & Needles in Summerside, will cost $10 each and come in both medium and large sizes.
Sylvia Doiron, the owner of Pins & Needles, said her business has always been involved with the Boys and Girls Club.
Pins & Needles started making masks at the beginning of the pandemic. When the club reached out to them about pink shirt day, it seemed a perfect fit.
“I just think that it really makes people aware that we still have bullying around,” said Doiron. “I think it’s a great campaign.”
Money raised from the masks will go toward the club’s anti-bullying program, music program and the newly created Pinky Gallant Memorial Scholarship. Binkley hopes to sell 1,000 masks.
Trinity Bradshaw, music director at the club, was a victim of bullying when she was in high school. As a result, she found it hard to learn every day.
Bradshaw thinks bullying is worse now than it was before the internet became widespread. Her first encounter with online bullying was through MSN Messenger.
“When it became an online thing, it was me staring at my computer and crying my eyes out until I went to bed at night,” she said.
Bradshaw’s first-hand experience with bullying has helped her understand the significance of Pink Shirt Day.
“It’s super important to educate young children and the youth of our city,” she said. “It’s so important to just treat others with kindness because it obviously affects their wellbeing.”
Masks are available for sale online or at the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside until Feb. 12.
Kristin Gardiner is the Journal Pioneer's rural reporter.