Leading the way

White Rock's Paige Glazier nominated for a national award for her efforts combating bullying.

White Rock’s Paige Glazier

Whoever chose orange spray paint to write hateful graffiti about White Rock’s Paige Glazier on the wall of her high school in 2013 didn’t know what they were doing.

Just over two years later, Glazier, 19, has turned that destructive impulse on its head in ways the perpetrator who defaced Elgin Park Secondary couldn’t have dreamed of.

The organization she founded in response to the incident – now dubbed Team Orange – is attracting national and international attention for encouraging positive social interaction among elementary school children long before they can be exposed to the negatives of high school life.

And Peninsula readers have an opportunity to recognize and endorse the contributions of the former White Rock Youth Ambassador and B.C. Ambassador hopeful by voting for her on the website of the Canadian Living ‘Me To We’ Awards.

Glazier has been nominated in the Social Action category of the awards, recognizing young individuals who have “addressed the root causes of social, environmental, economic or political issues and, in doing so (have) made Canada a better place.”

Voting remains open until May 8 (to vote for Glazier, visit https://www.metowe.com/living-me-to-we/living-me-to-we-awards/).

Winners, who will be announced at Toronto’s We Day and in the October issue of Canadian Living magazine, receive a $1,000 donation to the registered Canadian charity of their choice, plus a commemorative award and coverage in both the magazine and the website.

For Glazier, the recognition would be another welcome way to boost visibility for her newly rebranded organization, which promotes three key values among elementary-age children: inclusion, loyalty and respect.

“I’m really happy with the new logo,” she said, adding that since last featured in the Peace Arch News she had the opportunity to present the Team Orange program at some 50 elementary schools in the Surrey School District.

“It’s really fun, and we’ve had an amazing response from the kids,” Glazier said.

While not naturally predisposed to public speaking, she credits her participation in the White Rock and B.C. Ambassador programs for helping develop the presentation skills she needed – and it also helps that, as a young person herself, she has more of a handle on interacting with the children.

Glazier noted that Team Orange is not an anti-bullying campaign per se, although – as someone who was bullied for many years at school – she’s grateful for the initiatives that have taken a stand against bullying.

“But I wanted to do the step before that,” she said.

Glazier’s idea is to model positive behaviour to school-age children so that they grow up with appropriate values rather than having to have bad behaviour corrected later on, she said.

“I want them to see it’s more fun doing the better things than it is to do the negative things.”

Performing interactive skits with the children is an important part of the presentations, Glazier said.

“Words like inclusion, loyalty and respect are not part of their vocabulary, so we show what exclusion is like in a skit in which one child is not allowed to play a game of soccer because he or she is not good enough at the game.

“I ask ‘how many of us have had the same experience at recess’ and all the hands go up, and the teachers’ jaws drop,” she said.

“Then I show them that, as a Team Orange member, they can teach the kids who have been excluded the skills they need so they can play.”

Glazier noted that – once the idea is presented to them like that – children are swift to volunteer to be the one to teach skills to their classmates.

“We show them it’s easy and that it’s fun to be inclusive, and to be loyal and to treat others with respect.”

It’s not unusual for Glazier to be mobbed by children following the presentations, she said.

“They’re all asking if they can get the Team Orange T-shirts and bracelets and if they can follow me on Facebook and how they can help out,” she said. “We choose a Team Orange ambassador at each school, and they’re all vying to be the one.”

Other successes for Team Orange have been landing a two-year contract with Signal Hill in Langley, a charity that encourages young people to “cherish and protect life.”

“Their main focus is valuing each and every person,” Glazier said.

“I’m very excited – there’s lots to do and lots happening.”

And even though her new Team Orange video hasn’t been officially launched, it’s already received more than 35,000 views on YouTube – and Glazier has been flooded with invitations to present the program in locations as far afield as Washington, DC, Arizona, Toronto and Calgary.

“It’s great, but I’m still presenting in B.C.,” she laughed. “I’ll have to get to them when I can.”

Glazier acknowledges that circumstances chose her for a role she never planned, but it’s one she’s very happy to take forward into adulthood.

“I would never have pictured me speaking to so many kids – but I’m happy to be a role model for them. I wouldn’t change my experience for anything, because without it, there wouldn’t be a Team Orange.”

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