A well-known anti-bullying activist is bringing his message to Montreal students.
Travis Price, who helped inadvertently start the Pink Shirt movement 11 years ago, is visiting six schools this week in advance of Pink Shirt Day on Feb. 27.
The movement grew out of a protest he organized at his Nova Scotia school in 2007, to support a fellow student who was bullied for his pink shirt. Price and other boys at the school wore pink tank tops to support the bullied Grade 9 student. That act of wearing a pink shirt against bullying quickly spread across the world.
Price was also bullied as a child and he now travels to different countries year round, speaking at schools and various events.
“I think it’s really important kids see somebody that they can use as a role model that’s been through the bullying situation,” he says, following a speech to grades 4 to 6 students at General Vanier Elementary School in Saint-Leonard.
“It’s important that there’s someone who has made it through this, that survived it, that knows how to deal with it now.”
Price explains that the effects of bullying can last long into a person’s adult life.
“I was 21 years old when I got diagnosed with depression and it just hit me like a dump truck,” he said. “I just didn’t know what was happening to me but now research shows that if you’re bullied severely the effects can last a lifetime.”
One of Price’s main messages to children is that they have a responsibility to stand up for those who are bullied and to say something.
The piece of advice resonated with 10-year-old Grade 5 student Alessandro Vélez. He says he has friends who have been the target of bullying.
“If you’re getting bullied out there, talk to somebody you’re comfortable with — your friends, family members,” Vélez said.
One challenge parents and children face these days that Price didn’t have deal with is cyber-bullying.
He adds that education is important to tell kids how to deal with online bullying, and to teach parents and teachers how to protect children.
Price stresses that education is key in the fight to reduce bullying and arming kids and adults alike with the tools to deal with it.