“STRONG people stand up for themselves, but the strongest stand up for others.”
It’s a message students from Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary (LTS) shared with students at surrounding Surrey elementary schools on Pink Shirt Day, and one that embodies the meaning behind their school club: The Power of 1.
The Power of 1 is an all-male leadership team at LTS. Established in 2013 to boost male involvement at the school, the group is now 40 members strong, with students from Grades 8 through 12 represented. (There are also all-female and co-ed leadership groups at LTS.)
Members visited five area elementary schools – A.J. McLellan, Cloverdale Traditional, George Greenaway, Don Christian and Surrey Centre – on Pink Shirt Day, not only talking about bullying and prevention, but dispelling fears about high school and providing strategies on how to make the transition to Grade 8 successful.
At A.J. McLellan, five LTS students had an interactive session with Grade 6 and 7 students, defining types of bullying, where it occurs and examples of situations where kids might feel ostracized or pressured by peers.
“Sometimes,” said Grade 12 student Matthew Kingshott, “you might be bullying without knowing…by bumping into someone, or not saying hi. You don’t know what’s going on with them and your actions might just be piling more on.”
Sahil Singh, in Grade 11 at LTS, said his personal experience being harassed in Grade 9 helps him connect with the younger students.
“We can show it’s not just some abstract topic,” he said. “If we just spout a bunch of statistics, they’re not going to relate.”
Fellow LTS student Jay Rai agreed.
“I’ve been a bystander and I’ve seen bullying. I think everybody has.”
For the elementary students in the crowd, hearing from students just a few years older had an impact.
“They understand what’s happening when teachers aren’t around,” said Grade 7 student Siena Jones.
“They know what it’s like and understand things like cyberbullying, that adults might not understand,” added classmate Jordyn Denenfeld.
For Hannah Wingerak, the Power of 1 presentation did far more than allay her fears about high school.
“I’m actually really excited,” she smiled.