Prettiest in Pink: National Anti-Bullying Initiative Shines Locally, Online and Offline

– By Nicole Freeston

February 27, 2013, was home to Pink Shirt Day, a national anti-bullying initiative that definitely spoke volumes this year. With endless support from Christy Clark’s ERASE Bullying strategy, CKNW, other local media outlets and numerous communities across the Lower Mainland, this day made both a local and global impact. The Pink Shirt Day website had visits from over 130 countries on six different continents this past Wednesday.

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It’s clear that this initiative made an enormous online impact. Thousands of Vancouverites were tweeting their pink shirt photos while letting everyone know where they were celebrating Pink Shirt Day. Parents, school districts, police officers, students, and businesses were all participating in this online dialogue surrounding Pink Shirt Day and the message of anti-bullying.

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Kindness ROCKS Producer Jeanette O’Keeffe with two student performers at Gleneagle Secondary School

Often times, national initiatives such as Pink Shirt Day are criticized for being an ‘illusion’ of participation in a particular cause due to the nature of the Internet. It seems simple and easy enough to tweet a short message, giving off the impression of support, and leaving it at that. Think back to Barrack Obama’s first presidential campaign, where he built and maintained a strong online presence in order to reach a younger, more social media savvy audience. Voters who engaged with Obama’s online campaigns were criticized for not necessarily knowing all that much about the election, but just ‘participated’ via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube because it was easy and everyone was doing it.

However, I don’t think I can say the same for Pink Shirt Day. The online support was definitely there, and that was just an extension of the offline support. At the end of the day, the underlying message is that of anti-bullying and kindness, and the community was on board with that by physically attending community events and continuing the dialogue surrounding this issue.

Magnolia had the amazing opportunity to directly participate in a local anti-bullying initiative this year here in Vancouver, the Kindness ROCKS program. Presented by Moon Coin Productions, this program visits schools in the Lower Mainland producing full-on rock concerts for students of all ages, including local artists such as DiRTY RADiO and Anami Vice, and school choirs and dance teams. For some students, it will be the first rock concert they ever experience. Kindness ROCKS is unique in its approach by performing songs that are relevant and well-known to youth, such as Katy Perry’s Firework.

kindnessrocks_gleneagle_feb27_12Kindness ROCKS performed at three different schools in February including Burnaby South Secondary School, MacNeill Secondary School, and Gleneagle Secondary School. Spending time doing outreach and social media for these February shows was such a great experience. Seeing the students’ reaction to the songs, stories and messages surrounding anti-bullying, kindness, compassion and forgiveness emphasized the bigger picture of the work we were doing. It was especially amazing to see the support from the Coquitlam community at Gleneagle Secondary on Pink Shirt Day, including friends and family of Amanda Todd, who took her own life last year due to bullying.

It’s easy to get caught up in online participation and media frenzies surrounding an initiative such as Pink Shirt Day, but at the end of the day, there is a shared experience between everyone involved, all in support of the same message and goal. We were glad to be a part of it!

Watch CTV’s story on the Kindness ROCKS concert at Gleneagle Secondary School on Pink Shirt Day HERE.

Also check out Coquitlam Now‘s short video of the 11am Kindness ROCKS show at Gleneagle Secondary School below:

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