While Pink Shirt Day (also known as Anti-Bullying Day) is officially the last Wednesday of February, it can be celebrated and promoted with students all year long. This year the date is February 23, 2022 and the theme is Lift Each Other Up with a focus on supporting diversity, inclusion and acceptance. We have rounded up ideas to share with children of all ages (in addition to wearing pink) to reinforce the core messages around Anti-Bullying Day.
Our team at Teachers on Call feels strongly about anti-bullying initiatives. As educators we support elementary and high-school students of all ages - from kindergarten all the way to grade 12 – as both teachers in the classroom during the school day, and as tutors after school and on weekends. We work directly with young children and teenagers who have experienced bullying and need extra help as a result. We believe every child should feel safe and secure at school.
Here are five ways to reinforce the messages of #PinkShirtDay (and where to find a pink shirt).
Listen to music that promotes friendship
Music can have a profound influence on students from a young age, which is why this is our first suggestion. We are huge fans of the Toronto-based musical duo Lisa Sonshine and Brock Burford – known by their fans as Sonshine & Broccoli. Hug Life is their latest album, and it’s got some catchy tunes! Check out song #9 in particular, Be a Buddy Not a Bully (feat. Noa Vlessing). If you’re loving this music, check out their album It’s Cool to Be Kind.
Encourage your child to talk to someone new
Friendly communication is so important, as it makes us feel seen and valued when someone wants to talk to us. Chatting with a new student or even a teacher might feel a little uncomfortable for your child, so encourage them to talk to someone who is not already a good friend. Even starting with small, friendly conversation, like asking someone about their day, or inviting them to talk about their family, might result in a new friendship. By doing this, not only do they become more confident with social skills, they might also be helping someone else grow the same way, too!
Be mindful of actions
Have you ever had someone raise their voice at you, or do something rude, and it puts you in a bad mood for a while afterwards? Have you found that sometimes that may impact your actions after that happens? It’s amazing how quickly negative thoughts and feelings can spread from person to person. It takes practice, but you can teach kids to learn to recognize these feelings, reflect on how it’s affecting behaviour, and then modify the way they react to it. You can make people feel great just as quickly and easily as you can spread a bad mood (although it takes a little more work)!
Read books that promote friendship and diversity
If you follow our blog this suggestion will not surprise you. Books are a wonderful way to reinforce this year’s theme of acceptance and diversity. We have no shortage of recommendations on important reads, Lili Macaroni, Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color, Duck Days, and Music for Tigers, just to name a few. If looking for further inspiration check out more titles from independent publisher Pajama Press, a favourite of Canadian teachers and teacher librarians for children’s stories that promote friendship and inclusion.
Wear a pink shirt, toque or even a bandana
Check your child’s closet for pink, and don’t forget to wear it as well. If you need something pink in a hurry, check with a big retailer, or put out a request on your local buy nothing Facebook group. We always recommend the official retailers, including the volunteer run non-profit organization Pink T-Shirt Day Society or the Pink Shirt Day shop as net proceeds go directly to programs that benefit children. Although they will have to ship from British Columbia, you’ll have it in time for International Day of Pink on April 13 and the UN Anti-bullying Day on May 4, as well as for the remainder of the school year. You will also find a wide variety of official merchandise in addition to pink tees, including something for your pet!
If you are looking for additional resources, check out the Teachers on Call Pink Shirt Day 2021 blog. For more info on the original story 15 year ago from Nova Scotia of Travis Price and David Shepherd, check out the Sirius XM radio interview with our president, Joanne Sallay, as well as her Pink Shirt Day article on What She Said!
We hope these suggestions have equipped you with new ideas to teach children the importance to “be a buddy not a bully”.
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