What it’s All About

In 2007, on his first day of Grade 9, a boy in Nova Scotia wore a pink shirt to school. He was really happy with his pink shirt, he thought it looked great. But a few of the older boys in Grade 12 teased him for wearing pink – they tried to tell him that boys should not wear pink – which is not true! This Grade 9 boy was really sad about being teased and was afraid to go to school the next day because he didn’t want the older boys to pick on him again.

Two other Grade 12 boys in the school – David and Travis – found out about this and decided that they weren’t going to sit by and watch this Grade 9 boy get bullied. They wanted to come up with a plan to show the bullies that their actions were not going to be tolerated this year.

David and Travis decided to buy a bunch of pink shirts to hand out at school the next day. They went home and reached out to all their friends by email and on social media – asking their friends to wear one of these pink shirts at school the following day. Travis and David wanted to create a “sea of pink” to let the bullies know that they were not going to get away with picking on the Grade 9 boy.

The next day at school, not only did their friends wear the pink shirts that David and Travis bought, but hundreds of other kids at the school wore pink – some from head to toe. When the Grade 9 boy arrived at school to see the “sea of pink” he became a lot happier, it was like a weight was lifted off his shoulders – he was no longer afraid to go to school. And the bullies got the message that bullying was not going to be allowed at this school any more.

You can watch this video from Travis to learn more about this day:

Why it’s Important

This is an initiative that was thought up, organized and run by kids. These Grade 12 boys had an idea and they ran with it. They showed the world that kids can take action for the causes they care about and make the world a better place. They showed us that we are all in this together and that love is louder than hate. They changed the Grade 9 boy’s life for the better with their simple Act of Kindness.

And the world responded. Pink Shirt Day is now celebrated in almost 180 countries around the world.

When I explain this day to my kids, I highlight the fact that David and Travis defeated the bullies by using their minds rather than their physical strength. They had a great idea and they brought their community together in a non-violent, peaceful way to make change happen. This is true power.

One of the things I love about Pink Shirt Day is that wearing a pink shirt is a positive, proactive action you can take to show that you stand for love and kindness. I am not the biggest fan of the word “anti-bullying”, because the “bully” is another child, who is most likely hurting, scared, and lonely and is acting out in the only way he or she knows how. And you can’t really be “anti” another child. It is much more effective to tell children the type of behaviours that we want them to exhibit, rather than tell them what not to do.

If we just send the message that bullying is bad (which it most definitely is), but we don’t provide children with a framework for the type of behaviour and actions we want to see, our message will not be as powerful. We need to give our children concrete examples of kindness. So for example, you can tell your child that if a new student starts in their class, they should be very welcoming to that new student. They should ask them to play at recess, they should volunteer to show them around the school. Or, you can tell your child that if a student has missed a few days due to illness, your child should offer to deliver some of the work that they have missed so that they can catch up. If we fill our children’s minds with positive ideas for doing good and being kind, there will be less room for negative ideas about being mean.

For more info, check out the official Pink Shirt Day website: