World-Changing Kids was asked to present at, and help organize, this year’s Pink Shirt Day event on February 22, 2017 at the Canterbury Community Association’s (CCA) After School Program – and we were so honoured to be asked!
Pink Shirt Day is an awesome anti-bullying initiative that encourages everyone to practice kindness – so it is definitely one of our favourite days of the year.
The amazing Jolyne Pepe coordinates the CCA’s After School Program’s Pink Shirt Day each year. Working with Jolyne, and with some great input from Sandra Cloutier, and with the support and help from the amazing CCA After School Program staff, we put together the most beautiful afternoon of kindness, compassion and love.
In the three weeks leading up to Pink Shirt Day, the After School Program Counselors had the kids working on daily Acts of Kindness. These included such things as making Valentine Cards for seniors and having the older children reading with the younger children after school. We also had four big Acts of Kindness for the kids to work on – each grade from 3 – 6 completed a Kindness Painting, and the younger kids completed a colouring page, to be given to special guests at Pink Shirt Day.
My daughter helped me prep the Kindness Paintings so that the kids in the After School Program could easily colour in the rainbows, add their own flower, and colour in the letters.
Then on the big day, all the kids came into the gym for a fantastic program of speakers and presenters. Mayor Jim Watson started the presentation with a message about the importance of kindness. In the background you can see the “Garden of Kindness” banner that the kids completed. We prepared some World-Changing Kids Garden Characters for tracking the completed Acts of Kindness – a flower, a butterfly, some cool bugs. When the kids completed an Act of Kindness, the could choose one of the Garden Characters, write their Act of Kindness on it and add it to the Garden of Kindness. It was a great visual to show all the kids and the parents how much kindness was happening after school!
Then I did a presentation about how kindness is your superpower and with it you can change the world. I explained to the kids that really simple Acts of Kindness really can make the world a better place and they all have the power to do this now! After my presentation I called up some of the grade 6 students to perform a Pink Shirt Day skit I wrote to make sure that all the kids knew what Pink Shirt Day was all about. These actors did an amazing job!
Then we introduced the Kindness Paintings. Our World-Changing Kids Kindness Paintings all have the beautiful words “We Are All Flowers From the Same Garden” and show the world that we belong to each other. The first three paintings were made for the three religious organizations who received hate graffiti back in November. With these paintings, we wanted to tell our neighbours that we are happy that they are part of our community – that our community is a better place because they are in it. These Kindness Paintings send the message that we will not stand for hate, that we will stand together in love and kindness.
The first painting was gifted to Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey of the Parkdale United Church. Two of the grade 3 students who worked on this painting came up to present it to him. Rev. Bailey then gave the children a beautiful, simple lesson about kindness by using the analogy of donating blood. He explained that when you donate blood, you are donating it to anyone and everyone in your community. You don’t know who will be receiving it, and you can’t specify who will be receiving it. There is no separation by race or religion or colour in blood donations. We all have the same blood.
The third Kindness Painting was presented by the students to Imam Samy Metwally of the Ottawa Muslim Association.
And the fourth Kindness Painting was presented to Allan and Wendy Hubley in memory of their son Jamie.
Mr. Hubley told all the kids that he really liked the painting – especially the rainbow. He explained how much his son Jamie had loved rainbows – that he would make the whole family stop what they were doing to watch a rainbow whenever they spotted one. I was really happy that my daughter had suggested adding rainbows to these Kindness Paintings!
We then called our next special guest up – Samer Aljbawi. Samer arrived in Ottawa from Syria with his family just over a year ago. Because he speaks fluent English, he jumped right in to help all the other Syrian families who were new to Ottawa. He told me that there were days at the beginning when he would be answering 50 emails and texts a day from other Syrians needing help with everyday questions like how the buses worked or where to get groceries. In a most fantastic partnership, Samer is now working at the Somali Centre for Family Servies as a Syrian Settlement Counselor.
I had reached out to Samer back in the fall asking for some suggestions for an Act of Kindness that we could have our World-Changing Kids do for our Syrian friends. He suggested that families who are here in Ottawa and still have relatives living in Syria would really appreciate some kind messages of love and support to help them feel that they are not alone and that their friends and neighbours in Ottawa are still thinking about them and their families.
So in collaboration with Samer, and with design help from my awesome, talented friend Sarah West, we came up with this colouring page. Lots of the kids from JK to Grade 2 coloured in these pages for Pink Shirt Day. We presented a whole bunch to Samer for him to give to the Syrian families in Ottawa.
Each year at the CCA’s Pink Shirt Day event, Mr. and Mrs. Hubley present Jamie’s Kindness Awards to two children from each grade. The After School Program Counselors nominate children who demonstrate inclusion, acceptance and kindness, children who are leaders in their grades. The kids were so proud to receive these awards.
Then Jean Cloutier, Councillor for Alta Vista, provided some closing remarks to our Pink Shirt Day event. After that, the kids were off to various kindness and anti-bullying themed workshops, but first we had a few minutes to take photos with all the lovely guests! Because it was too difficult to quickly know which children had permission to be in photos, you will notice that I just had my kids in each photo.
Mrs. and Mr. Hubley with their Kindness Painting.
Imam Metwally with his Kindness Painting.
Rev. Bailey with his Kindness Painting.
Jolyne Pepe, Imam Metwally and Rev. Bailey.
Samer Aljbawi, Alex Awad (CCA After School Program Counselor), Jolyne Pepe, Imam Metwally, Rev. Bailey and Mohammad Al Mahmoud (Samer’s guest).
Then it was time for the workshops. We had a fantastic schedule for the children which included: Mony Dojeiji and Alberto Agraso of Walking for Peace talking about their book “I Am Happy” and doing some fun activities from the book, Sensei Morgan doing a self-confidence and self-defense activity, Family Harmonies Familiales talking about being inclusive and doing some awesome art with the kids, World-Changing Kids doing Kindness Improv, and Emily Voss completing the Crinkled Heart activity with kids.
Then, as a total surprise to the kids, superstar CCA Counselor Alex made arrangements to have Andrew Marshall of the Redblacks come in with the Grey Cup on Pink Shirt Day. The kids were so excited!
It really was the most beautiful, inspiring day of love and kindness. So many amazing people were brought together to show the kids that the adults in their lives value kindness. This will have long lasting positive effects on these awesome kids. Because of this event, they will look for more ways to help out their friends and neighbours, they will make a habit of being kind. And I am so excited to see what these awesome World-Changing Kids will do when they are the future leaders and they approach the important issues and decisions with compassion, love and kindness. I know that we will be in good hands. I know that they will make the world a better place.