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Pink Shirt Day co-founder speaks at schools in Cape Breton

Travis Price, centre, stands with some Grade 5 students after his presentation at Tompkins Elementary School on Tuesday. The students are, from left to right, Hayden Graham, 10, Caleb Green, 10, Madison Stanley, 10, and Taryn Boone, 10.
Travis Price, centre, stands with some Grade 5 students after his presentation at Tompkins Elementary School on Tuesday. The students are, from left to right, Hayden Graham, 10, Caleb Green, 10, Madison Stanley, 10, and Taryn Boone, 10. - Nikki Sullivan

“One small act of kindness can create change”

RESERVE MINES, N.S. – Students at Tompkins Elementary School listened and laughed as Travis Price told his story about being the kid who was bullied who then became the teen who helped create Pink Shirt Day.

Pink Shirt Day was started in 2007 by Price and his friend David Shepherd. They were Grade 12 students at Central Kings Rural High School and upset that a Grade 9 male student was bullied for wearing a pink shirt.

With the support of the school they convinced 850 of the 1000 people at the school to wear something pink in support of the bullied student. Within a week schools across Nova Scotia were doing it, then Canada and then the world. They received national and international media attention, including a call from Ellen DeGeneres to be on her talk show. In 2017, more than 10 million people in 32 different countries participated in Pink Shirt Day.

Travis Price, 28, talks to the students at Tompkins Elementary School on Tuesday about his experiences being a bullied child who then became the teen who helped start Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying awareness initiative. His message was clear – one small act of kindness can help stop bullying and create change.
Travis Price, 28, talks to the students at Tompkins Elementary School on Tuesday about his experiences being a bullied child who then became the teen who helped start Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying awareness initiative. His message was clear – one small act of kindness can help stop bullying and create change.

Eleven years ago, they decided to pass on the Ellen DeGeneres Show to keep the anti-bullying awareness campaign a “blank slate” so any student could relate. Eventually, Shepherd moved on to another career path, but Price has continued educating students, educators and others about bullying, how to stop it and how reporting it is better than physical violence.

“Bullying is everywhere. It’s in the schools, it’s in the workplace, it’s at hockey games,” he told the Post after his talk at Tompkins school.

The 28-year-old travels the world doing talks about bullying and was visiting schools within the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Centre for Education on Tuesday. His message was clear and learned from personal experience, as the bullied kid and as the one standing up to the bullies – one small act of kindness can make a difference.

“Doesn’t matter if you are the fastest, the prettiest, the smartest, you can still get bullied,” Price said.

“Bullying, it’s never going to poof, disappear. I’m looking for the day where a kid is being bullied and another kid steps in to stop it.”

When he asked students at Tompkins if they had any questions, hands immediately shot up. Some were innocent questions like, “How many pink shirts do you have?” Others were asking if they should fight a bully and one student admitted he had been bullied.

Youth opening up about their experiences is one change Price has seen over the past 11 years he’s been doing anti-bullying awareness. The other big change is seeing students keep the conversation going after he leaves.

“It used to be I had to walk in and define what bullying is. Now they know what it is. What they need are the tools to deal with it. They just need the confidence to be able to stand up,” he said.
“I think kids are seeing this more and more, that small acts of kindness can create the biggest change.”

Related:

• The resilience of Cape Breton students, Pink Shirt Day 2017

• Pink Shirts – a decade later

Many of the students like Hayden Graham, 10, and Caleb Green, 10, liked Price’s talk because it was “funny” and informative.

Taryn Boone, 10, said, “I was surprised it was funny because it is an emotional subject, but he made it funny. I would have liked for it to be longer because it was a really nice story,” she said.

All three grade five students and their classmate Madison Stanley, 10, agreed the message Price was pushing is going to stick with them.

“I learned we have to stand-up for people who are being bullied,” said Boone.

“I’m going to remember the big message because it was really important,” said Graham.

Lee-Anne Burke, vice-principal at the school, said they appreciated the chance to have Price speak.

“We do a lot on bullying and how to stand up for someone who is being bullied but having someone here who has experienced it is just so important,” she said.

“It’s one thing hearing it from me but from someone who experienced it, it’s an example so that students know they can make a difference. It’s so powerful.”
 

nicole.sullivan@cbpost.com

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