WATCH ABOVE: Christina Stevens explains what one school in Sutton is doing to fight bullying.
TORONTO – Students at a York Region high school accepted the challenge of a Canadian musician to stop bullying through random acts of kindness by posting positive, complimentary notes on lockers throughout the school.
Students at Sutton District High School in York Region stuck nearly 650 Post-it notes on lockers throughout the school in the days leading up to winter exams in an attempt to spread positivity and end bullying.
“Everything from ‘you rock,’ ‘you’re amazing,’ ‘be beautiful,’ ‘Skippy loves you’… ‘my Canada includes you,’ ‘the universe makes no mistakes,’” said Amanda Ellis, a teacher at the school.
“It was amazing. The kids were really taken aback a bit at first because it was new, they had never seen it before. They weren’t sure what it’s there for and then they compared each other and they realized that everyone had a unique one.”
The school signed up for a 30-day challenge called “Say My Name Canada.” The challenge was created by musician and co-founder of Say My Name Canada, Glenn Marais. The organization challenges people to be kind for 30 days starting Jan. 25 and keep track of their “kindness acts.”
The idea was originally meant to coincide with Pink Shirt Day but was extended. The goal is to end bullying by being kind and seeing victims of bullying as people rather than targets.
“What happens in bullying is people often attack who you are. Your core identity,” Marais said. “Say My Name is a rallying cry to recognize these people and it’s a shout out. It’s like ‘Say my name, like see me, see who I am.’”
Parents, teachers, and governments have become increasingly concerned with school bullying over the last few years as some victims including Rehteah Parsons in Halifax and Amanda Todd in British Columbia killed themselves after being targeted by bullies.
Sutton District High School was at the epicentre of a bullying scandal in May 2014 after a video surfaced showing a fight between two students. Onlookers hurled racial slurs at the black student involved.
Now students are hoping bullying doesn’t happen again.
“I’ve seen people be bullied before and I’ve seen what they go through behind the scenes. It’s not the greatest thing to watch somebody go through and I don’t want people to have to go through that,” Kyla Robinson, a 14-year-old in Grade 9, said.
Kyla was part of the student group, The League of Social Justice, which wrote and stuck the sticky notes on kids’ lockers. She said it was to “spread kindness and hopefully stop bullying.”
Owen Code, another grade 9 student, said the campaign worked as kids left the stickers up, compared them and talked about the messages. They also posted photos of the notes to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and helped facilitate nearly 30,000 mentions of the campaign online.
“It feels good that we did something that had that big of an impact,” Code said. “[Other students] thought it was a great idea too. It relieved some of their stress from exams.”
– With files from Christina Stevens