Pink shirt day cel­e­brated at school

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - GE­OR­GIA FOR­RESTER

Strate­gies on how to com­bat bul­ly­ing in­volved a throng of pink shirt, rib­bon and grin wear­ing Girls’ High stu­dents for Pink Shirt Day on Fri­day.

The international aware­ness day en­cour­ages peo­ple around the world to talk about bul­ly­ing and find ways to re­duce it in the com­mu­nity.

School Guid­ance pre­fect Paige Macken­zie, or­gan­ised a week of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing sup­port ses­sions for year 9 and 10 pupils.

The school’s year 13 stu­dents spent the week vis­it­ing year 9 and 10 class­rooms to of­fer ad­vice on how to han­dle sit­u­a­tions when bul­ly­ing oc­curs.

‘‘It’s just to pro­vide them with tools and ad­vice about how they can help out and know what to do if some­one’s be­ing bul­lied,’’ Paige says.

This in­ter­ac­tion be­tween year groups was im­por­tant be­cause the older stu­dents pro­vided the younger ones with good role mod­els.

‘‘They look up to them and bul­ly­ing nor­mally can start at a young age, so hav­ing that sup­port there early on is good.’’

Pupils learned how to cor­rectly han­dle po­ten­tially de­mean­ing sit­u­a­tions such as when some­one drops their books. Paige’s mes­sage is in­stead of laugh­ing at them, sup­port them.

Pupils had ac­cess to school coun­selling ser­vices if they felt they were be­ing bul­lied.

‘‘Hav­ing friends go [to coun­selling] with them and sup­port them is so im­por­tant.’’

The eigh­teen-year-old says the large turn out of Girls’ High stu­dents wear­ing pink and show­ing sup­port for the cause made her happy and proud.

Pink Shirt Day be­gan in Canada in 2007 when two stu­dents took a stand against ho­mo­pho­bic bul­ly­ing af­ter a new stu­dent was ha­rassed and threat­ened for wear­ing pink.

It came to New Zealand in 2009 and is of­fi­cially cel­e­brated on May 20 by com­mu­nity groups, busi­nesses and schools through­out the coun­try.

‘‘Wear­ing pink – it’s not about the colour its about the mes­sage,’’ Paige says.

Guid­ance coun­sel­lor Me­lanie Osborne says it was great to see the stu­dents com­ing to­gether to raise aware­ness of a good cause.

Across New Zealand a record num­ber of peo­ple took part in the cam­paign, with more than 300 in­di­vid­u­als, schools, com­mu­nity groups, uni­ver­si­ties, busi­nesses and work­places in­volved.

PHOTO DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Guid­ance pre­fect Paige Macken­zie, 18, hugs fel­low stu­dent Olivia Clar­idge, 17, as Palmer­ston North Girls’ High School stu­dents wear pink to show their sup­port for an anti bul­ly­ing cam­paign.

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