When news of Amanda Todd’s death last fall reached the home of 14-year-old Cloverdale teen Siena Stampacchia, it sparked a debate.
“My brothers were saying that maybe she had brought this upon herself, but I thought, ‘no, this isn’t right,’” she recalled of the bullied Port Coquitlam student’s suicide. “I spoke to my mom and we talked about how there was so much more support after her death, but there was nothing there before to help her.”
After brainstorming, Siena and her mother, Tami, decided to begin a campaign that would encourage students to join together in order to stop bullies from singling out their victims.
The Safe With A Group (SWAG) initiative began in November, with Siena designing rubber wristbands that featured the acronym.
The aim of the wristbands – which feature pink, the national colour for anti-bullying day, and blue for its “calming and safe” effect – was to create a way to easily identify someone a bullying victim could rely on to help.
The sign of solidarity between those wearing a wristband and the victim would ease tension and provide support.
“Sometimes with a group, it’s easier to stand up for someone. It’s great to have one person saying bullying is wrong, but it’s great to have a group,” the Lord Tweedsmuir student explained. “We don’t want to bully the bully. We just want to take away their power and create a sense of support.”
With the help of her mom, a longtime employee of London Drugs, Siena was able to speak to the CEO of the company about selling her wristbands. Initially, only the Lower Mainland stores stocked them, but recently the wristbands have expanded past B.C. to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
“We were only going to keep it local, but as more people heard about it, they said they needed it in their community,” Siena explained, noting that all the proceeds from the $3 wristbands benefit Kids Help Phone.
Now the soon-to-be Grade 10 student has set her sights on expanding the anti-bullying initiative throughout her school and eventually to other schools.
Helping her reach out to a broader audience is her Facebook page and Twitter account, which feature tips on how to prevent and stop bullying with different tasks.
“When people understand that there is more than saying ‘I’m not a bully’ and that there is something they can do to prevent it, that’s when it all works,” she said.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.facebook.com/SafeWithAGroup