Strong people stand up for themselves, but the strongest stand up for others.
That’s the message Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary School (LTSS) leadership group The Power of 1 had for students at neighbouring elementary schools on Pink Shirt Day (Feb. 28), and one that embodies the meaning behind their club.
The Power of 1 is an all-male leadership team at LTSS. The group was started in 2013 to boost male involvement at the high school, and it now boasts a membership of 40 students from Grade 8 to 12. (LTSS has all-female and co-ed leadership groups as well.)
The Power of 1 visited five Cloverdale elementary schools on Pink Shirt Day, sending team members to A.J. McLellan, Cloverdale Traditional, George Greenaway, Don Christian and Surrey Centre to talk about bullying and prevention, and to alleviate fears about making the transition to high school by providing strategies and advice.
At A.J. McLellan Elementary, five team members hosted an interactive session with Grade 6 and 7 students, defining types of bullying, explaining where it occurs and going through examples of situations where students might feel ostracized or pressured by peers.
“Sometimes,” said Grade 12 student Matthew Kingshott, “you might be bullying without knowing it … by bumping into someone, or not saying hi. You don’t know what’s going on with them and your actions might just be piling more on.”
Sahil Singh, a Grade 11 student, said his experience being harassed in Grade 9 helps him connect with the younger students. “We can show it’s not just some abstract topic,” he said. “If we just spout a bunch of statistics, they’re not going to relate.”
His team member Jay Rai agreed. “I’ve been a bystander and I’ve seen bullying,” said Jay. “I think everybody has.”
For the A.J. McLellan students in the audience, hearing from students just a few years older than them had an impact.
“They understand what’s happening when teachers aren’t around,” said Grade 7 student Siena Jones.
“They know what it’s like and understand things like cyberbullying, that adults might not understand,” added classmate Jordyn Denenfeld.
For Hannah Wingerak, the Power of 1 presentation did far more than relieve fears about high school.
“I’m actually really excited,” she said.