One of the things that the YELL youth of Synergy are most passionate about is inclusion. The belief and willingness to accept all members of the community, even the world, no matter their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or social status. Although small number, the power and passion behind the messages that these amazing young men and young women, are something that we could all learn from.
This year, the YELL group decided to launch the ‘Pretty in Pink’ campaign with buttons, as opposed to the pink shirts in past. Members of the community joined in such as the City of Chestermere, Chestermere Lake Middle School, Langdon School, Waiting Room Café, Leela and Malkeet Aheer, Chestermere Public Library and Lifepath Wellness. Donation boxes could be found throughout the city where with a suggestion donation of $2 for children/youth or $5 for adults you could get one of the ‘Pretty in Pink’ buttons.
Wearing a ‘Pretty in Pink’ button signifies a promise from the individual to their community; a promise to be a keeper of peace, to live authentically and generously and to always practice healthy relationships.
Part of the campaign message states “We believe in generating a good attitude and a good heart as much as possible, in this hour and in every hour. We believe in equality. We believe in being a positive ally. We do not tolerate bullying or oppression. We do not believe in being a silent bystander”.
From the proceeds of the button sales, $500 is being donated to Wheatland Crisis Shelter in Strathmore. The YELL youth group selected the charity they felt would support people dealing with bullying, which is synonymous with harassment, abuse, and domestic violence. The remaining proceeds are going to local community youth groups, YELL and SHOUT.
Besides the ‘Pretty in Pink Campaign’, Synergy staff, in partnership with Stepping Stones to Mental Health, Chestermere Mental Health, and the RCMP, were honored to be invited to speak at East Lake School. Youth Speakers: Tara Hofer, Emilie Young and Youth Advocates: Mackinley Chaisson, Mary Jayde Bailey gave powerful messages of inclusion and acceptance.
“Bullying continues to be a rising issue for our young people. As adults we often equate the experience to what we may have gone through when we were their age. The truth is, with modern technology and social media, what we experienced doesn’t even begin to compare to the persistent harassment that these young people are unable to escape. For our youth, the following points were important for us to illustrate:
1. Pink Shirt Day has 2 fantastic messages, first, young people have the power to make a difference, two, we must raise awareness and education around bullying.
2. Pink Shirt Day and similar 1 day events have not been successful in stemming the growing issue of bullying. We need to do more.
3. Bullying is not just playground disagreements. Its harassment, abuse, and violence.
4. Adults need to step in to help the youth who are struggling with this issue. This is not an issue youth and children can resolve with typical conflict resolution skills. This is a power imbalance that requires outside intervention.
5. No one should ever be ostracized for choosing not to wear a pink shirt. That spirit of the day/event is that we are all accepted for our differences”, stated Christy Redl, Youth Development Coordinator with Synergy.
The YELL youth spent the majority of the day with the children of East Lake School, sharing their experiences of bullying and letting them know they are not alone. They provided the advice on what to do if they are being bullied or what to do if they see someone else being bullied. In a world where 1 in 4 children will experience some form of bullying in their life, having amazing youth like this stepping up and taking a stand speaks a lot to their character and love of those in their community.