“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” ~ Andy Rooney
News – It was hard to go anywhere in Kingston on Feb. 24 without seeing pink, especially at the central branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL). The library hosted the second annual ‘Respect the Pink’ event in conjunction with Pink Shirt Day. While the weather was a bit treacherous, many still came out to spread the word about putting a stop to bullying.
The event, aimed at youth ages 12 to 24, was organized in conjunction with the City of Kingston, KFPL, the Boys and Girls Club, Community Living Kingston, Pathways to Education and Y2K and was developed by youth for youth. The evening included workshops, activities, socialising and, of course, pizza.
“The event is designed to address bullying, but it is also about breaking down barriers and getting people to know each other more,” explained Lisa Pennock, adult facilitator for the youth voice table for Y2K. “Pink Shirt Day is generally geared towards younger youth and we wanted something that would work for teens and older youth.”
The event was a big hit last year and taught participants about issues like homophobia, transphobia and inclusion and even Islamophobia; the same themes were presented this year and some were even expanded.
“Last year we ran a workshop on Islamophobia because issues were coming up a lot. This year we chose to focus on incoming refugees and how to be welcoming in the community,” explained Noor Huda, youth facilitator for the youth to voice table at Y2K.
“I think youth really want to talk about these issues but they don’t know how, so we wanted to provide more of a forum for them.”
One workshop also dealt with relationships and behaviours that are good and bad within them. Youth were asked to discuss issues like consent, power and even appearance.
“It was interesting to see that the qualities of a romantic relationship can be the same as the qualities of any other kind of relationship and we should hold all relationships to the same standards,” explained Rhapsody Blair, 14.
“Sometimes you let your partner get away with behaviour that you wouldn’t accept from friends and that shouldn’t happen.”
Of course, youth also learned about bullying and bullying prevention and many were happy to take part in order to combat bullying in their own lives and the lives of their peers.
“I just entered high school and I realized how much more bullying happens in high school than elementary school,” said Abbie Matheson, who also helped organized some of the event. “I thought going to something like this would help me understand it more and maybe teach me how to deal with these issues more.”
Awareness and compassion were emphasized during the event and for Chelsea Aalders-Madigan, 15, awareness was definitely the biggest take away.
“Sometimes not a lot of people know what is happening with bullying because not a lot of people are educated about it,” she said. “But the more education there is, the more people will be willing to stand up against it and I hope that is achieved through this event.”
Article for Kingston Heritage by Mandy Marciniak ~ Feb 26, 2016
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