Anyone visiting Sarah Thompson School Feb. 28 could be forgiven for thinking there was a new school dress code in place.
Nearly all students and staff were dressed in pink for the annual Pink Shirt Day to take a stand against bullying.
“It’s really become part of our culture from the first year that the school opened we’ve always done pink shirt day,” said Sarah Thompson School Principal Michelle Doz.
To help get the message out, Synergy was invited to come present to the students in a special assembly.
“The messaging from kids to kids is the biggest piece I think it resonates with them much more than it does when we’re just standing up here and repeating the same message to them,” said Doz.
Through a series of activities, skits, videos and even dancing student volunteers with Synergy taught Sarah Thompson School’s students about bullying and strategies to prevent it while standing up for oneself.
“I thought it was well done” said Doz.
“Very active, very in the moment, very authentic,” she said, “I also think some of their skits really were a number of the things these kids have gone through even at their young age.”
With the emphasis on respect and kindness at the school, Doz said that presentations like this help them to be proactive and keep bullying out of the school as much as possible.
“We’re wanting to get the message consistently out there so that maybe they think twice about behaving poorly,” said Doz.
While the culture at the school is very positive, Doz said that they do have their challenges.
Several years ago, the school did a survey with the students and found high levels of anxiety amongst the students, particularly in Grade 3.
“There’s a lot of pressure on our kids so if we can get the message out that to treat each other with kindness and respect and decency I think we get ahead of bullying,” she said.
Staying ahead of bullying as well making sure kids can understand what bullying is and strategies to handle it is why the school always makes a point of participating in Pink Shirt Day.
Doz said that, while students rarely misbehave right in front of her or her staff, she believes that the messaging is having an impact on the kids and how they behave on the bus, at recess and at lunch.
“I think that we reiterate the language a lot so the anti-bullying message, the language around it the standing up for yourself piece, so yes I think we have seen a difference,” she said.
After presentations like Synergy’s students have the skills and strategies to recognize and call out bullying behaviors.
“I’m so impressed with Synergy and the opportunities that they afford us,” said Doz.
For information or help coping with bullying contact alberta.ca/bullying or the provincial 24-hour help line at 1-888-456-2323.