In 2007, Travis Price was a Grade 12 student when he noticed a younger Grade 9 student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school. He knew from personal experience how devastating bullying could be and wanted to help.
He joined forces with fellow student David Shepherd to organize what became the first Pink Shirt Day in Canada. They bought and distributed a pile of pink shirts throughout the student population and that action sent an anti-bullying message to the entire school. Their message began to spread to other schools and before long, Pink Shirt Day became a worldwide movement.
Price recently visited George Street Middle School, Bliss Carmen Middle School and Devon Middle School as part of a national tour to continue to promote Pink Shirt Day in Canadian schools. It was his second visit to New Brunswick since 2013. He told students about how bullying had affected his own life and how he began his quest 13 years ago to help make sure no other youth had to suffer through the pain and stress of being bullied.
"It is a privilege when kids come up and share their stories, tell me what they've experienced, and that I have their trust," Price said. "They know someone is standing up for them and they are not the only one. The weight isn't so heavy. The conversation (about bullying) gives students help with knowing how to deal with it. They become inspired to practice kindness and make a difference in someone's life."
Price said during his school assemblies students learn how to recognize and help prevent bullying to change the culture of a school. They begin to say to others: "we don't do that here."
"When we communicate, educate and properly instruct, the behaviour goes away," Price said. There is healing and helping and schools become a safe place for all students, he noted.
Today, Pink Shirt Day is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education and training for anti-bullying programs to support children's healthy self-esteem, both with their peers and themselves, and to teach empathy, compassion and kindness. The Pink Shirt itself has come to symbolize that society will not tolerate bullying anywhere.
Shown in the photo below are (left to right) Pink Shirt Day co-founder Travis Price with Grade 8 students Ana McCain and Sophie MacAfee, and Principal Pierre Plourde at George Street Middle School.