Wed, Feb. 27-It wasn't just an ordinary day for the students at North Gresham Elementary School. Their day began the same it always does on Wednesday with an assembly. A group of children took off their coats and revealed a very special message on their bright pink anti-bullying tee shirts to kick off Acceptance Week, which runs through March 6th.
Among the brave students who stood and spoke to the entire school about their experiences with bullies was young Hannah Anderson, who said that was a lot harder to talk to the school than to confront a bully.
“A lot of my friends get bullied and I try to help them, and so I’m not really afraid of that,” she said.
Fifth grader Khemren Pruganan, who has also been bullied in the past spoke at the assembly as well. “ I've seen somebody calling somebody names,” Purganan said. “So I told them to stop and they didn't stop, so I told a teacher." and, “Hurting someone or hurting their feelings and making them, like, sad is just not good good.”
Denise McCloud, who is a parent volunteer at North Gresham, is the driving force for this unifying campaign. Where she lived before in Canada, schools spent the last Wednesday in February focusing on bullying. She stated, “It’s so important early on to learn how to build a tool kit to deal with bullying and to deal with understanding how to be a really positive, connected person with other people,”
Teachers and administration at North Gresham embraced the idea of a unifying anti-bullying message, because it's prevalent in elementary school, and they felt it was important to start talking about other forms of bullying. Many students are beginning to use social media sites, and they wanted them to know that bullying can also happen on the internet. It was a day to reflect, talk about resources, and help kids form a plan to stop bullying and being bullied.
Together, the students went outside and formed the words 'stand up' in their pink shirts that read 'STAND UP TOGETHER'. Every student there was touched, including Miquela Rivera, a North Gresham student who proudly showed me her pink shirt and talked about what the message meant to her.
"It's just not cool to be bullied, and we just want to do something to stop it" she said as she explained what the assembly was about and that they had gone outside to form the words.
The goal of the shirts is not only to spread the message throughout the school, but the community as well, and there is a special sense of pride for the students who own them. You don't have to have one of their shirts to support their cause though. Wear pink through March 6th to show your support of Acceptance Week, and help the ripple grow in our communities.