Today is Anti-Bullying Day 2013, celebrated on the last Wednesday in February here in Canada. It is also called “Pink Shirt Day” as a symbol to stand against bullying. Started in 2007, the first event was organized by two young men in Nova Scotia who arranged a “sea of pink” after Grade 9 student was harassed for wearing a pink polo shirt. The activism gained a lot of media attention and Canada now raises awareness to abolish bullying.
Vancouver slam-poet Shane Koyczan—best known internationally for his performance during the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics—has recorded an incredibly powerful poem called ‘To This Day’.
The To This Day Project is meant to “explore the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual.” To create the video, the project crowd-sourced 20-second segments from various volunteer animators and motion artists. The result is a truly beautiful piece and brought tears to my eyes:
I was incredibly fortunate to not experience a severe amount of bullying growing up. In Elementary School, I tread a middle ground between not popular and unpopular, generally avoiding notice altogether. I had a few friends but I often spent lunch hours reading, volunteering as a Library Monitor, or an Office Monitor in the rare chance we’d get to use the PA system. After Elementary School, I was incredibly fortunate to go to an amazing high school program. The school was tiny (130 students total, grades 8-12) and while it did have cliques and popularity politics, it was far more accepting of kids who didn’t fit the traditional school system’s mold.
Recognizing how fortunate I was to reach adulthood relatively unscathed is part of the reason I feel compelled to help raise awareness for Anti-Bullying Day. I believe that planting the seed of thought and raising awareness is often the first and most important step to initiating social change.