Whether she’s teaching her gymnastics students or touring local elementary schools as an anti-bullying ambassador, Grade 12 student Isabell Laughey says kids can be taught a lot earlier than you think.
“Even four year olds can learn about being nicer,” Laughey said. “When kids are mean, they are often mean without even realizing it or meaning to be.”
So Laughey wants to remind children to consider how others feel and be kinder. Laughey will speak at the steps of the legislature when Reynolds and other members of the community gather at noon for Pink Shirt Day on Wednesday.
Premier John Horgan, a 1977 Reynolds grad, will speak at 1:15 p.m. with an announcement about education on cyberbullying.
Laughey shared her own elementary and middle school experiences with bullying to a full gymnasium of Reynolds secondary students during the Pink Shirt Day assembly on Tuesday, ahead of keynote speaker Carol Todd. Todd is the mother of Amanda Todd who was cyberbullied and later commited suicide in 2012. Carol spoke about digital responsibility and awareness, but also about coming together as a community and reaching if someone is bullying you. It was a speech that Laughey appreciated.
“I was shy and awkward when I was a younger child and I was [particularly] sensitive, and sometimes kids don’t respond well to shyness, they don’t understand it and don’t understand that getting a rise out of someone is hurtful,” Laughey said.
Laughey was finding it hard to make friends in elementary and it became a much worse experience in middle school. Thankfully she’s okay now, and is already giving back in her last year of high school.
“When I look back I think often those who [picked on] me were just trying to be funny and didn’t realize how I felt,” Laughey said.
Pink Shirt Day started as an organic anti-bullying movement by Travis Price and high school pal David Shepherd on a September day in 2007 in Cambridge, N.S.
Price and Shepherd organized a pink shirt protest, purchasing 50 pink shirts and distributing them around the school for classmates to wear in response to a pink-shirt shaming incident the day before.
Price actually spoke at Mount Douglas in 2016 and then at Reynolds in 2017.