In 2007, a Grade 9 student from Central Kings Rural High School, Nova Scotia was bullied for wearing a pink t-shirt to school. The incident inspired two students from the same school – David Shepherd and Travis Price – to take a stand against bullying. David and Travis bought dozens of pink t-shirts and spread the message to encourage everyone to wear pink. In the end, they managed to get over 800 students to wear some form of pink to school, and that small act of compassion sparked the Pink Shirt movement.

11 years later, Pink Shirt Day is not only a national event in Canada but has also grown internationally. This story is a terrific example of two students leading a change in their community and being advocates for a cause.

According to a study in 2013, 35% of Canadian teens with access to social media say they have seen postings of mean or inappropriate comments about someone they know, and 14% of teens say they have seen these types of comments about themselves. While the support for this anti-bullying campaign has grown, the problem persists with the incidence of cyberbullying and risky online behaviour.

The need for a positive school climate is greater than ever.  As educators, it’s on us to inspire the next generation of David Shepherds and Travis Prices, and make everyday a Pink Shirt Day.

This February, consider a school or district-wide campaign for bullying prevention initiatives – a kindness challenge , a school pledge or perhaps making art to spread positive messages.

EVERFI’s free program – Honour Code – empowers students to be leaders in their community. Students will learn about what it takes to be courageous and build resilience, and they can also take on a capstone project that puts their leadership skills into practice.

What movement will your students start?

Swara Narayanan is a region lead, supporting the K12 implementation team across Canada. She is passionate about driving change and innovation in the education space. Swara has always been an avid foodie, and dreams of owning a sustainable restaurant and food enterprise some day.


Social & Emotional Learning

No matter what subject you teach, student emotion and behavior comes into play. Read the latest on compassion, empathy, habits of kindness, conflict resolution and more in our SEL series.