Thursday, September 15, 2016

On September 24, Come Out and #BeAwesome at Dufferin Mall

I was sitting in a School Council meeting when a dad I'd never seen there before spoke up. He had concerns about a boy in his daughter's class and he wanted to discuss anti-bullying measures, so he'd come out to a meeting for the first time. I was really happy to see him get involved and bring his concerns to us. Our principal asked a few questions to see what we were dealing with. Turns out, this one boy had kicked his daughter once, a couple of weeks previously. That same boy had hit a girl in their class the year before. 

Two isolated incidents, months apart. The kids were seven years old. He labelled this bullying.

Now, while there is nothing OK with one child hitting or kicking another, that's not bullying. That's bad behaviour, and although it can be physically or emotionally harmful and must be dealt with, describing it as such only serves to dilute the real dangers and harm that comes from true bullying.

Bullying is defined by its unwanted, aggressive, and repetitive nature, and by the existence of a real or perceived imbalance of power. It can be physical, verbal, or social, and it can happen in person or online. It can chip away and destroy a child's (or adult's) self-confidence and self-esteem, damage peer relationships, result in physical harm, or worse. The ongoing nature of the behaviour is key to the definition and to its potential for harm.

This past year, Boo was the target of bullies at his school. The boys taunted him, called him names, asked him to play one day and then told him he wasn't their friend the next. They took his things and hid them or tossed them aside. They grabbed his hat off his head in the middle of winter and tossed it back and forth so he couldn't get it. They snatched his glasses off his face, threw them on the ground, and stepped on them. The school did their best to intervene, and eventually things seemed to calm down, but Boo was devastated, confused, and emotionally hurt. The support of other kids in his class, and the kind words of his teachers made a big difference in helping him get through.

These days, with the spread of mobile technology and social media, bullying is no longer constrained to the schoolyard. But most kids still get a reprieve over the summer break. With the start of a new school year, the bullies and their victims are coming together once again, and it's time to shine a light on how we can all help stop bullying in its tracks.

On September 24, Dufferin Mall is hosting a special event in support of the anti-bullying movement. The "Be Awesome" event is focused on encouraging positive role modeling and spreading kindness as a way to make the world a more positive and welcoming place. The event runs from 2:30-4 pm, and will feature keynote speakers and a fashion show with “Role Models” who have been touched by mental health issues, and signature Wear Your Label t-shirts.

The line-up of speakers is amazing! Hannah Alper (Global Citizen Advocate & Change Maker) and Neil Pasricha (New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Equation and The Book of Awesome) will address the topics of compassion, kindness, and banding together for the greater good. They are both superb public speakers with an important message.

Additionally, an example of the Buddy Benches that are being donated to local schools, along with paint and art supplies allowing students to personalize each bench will be on display. Have you heard about Buddy Benches? They are specially designated benches placed in schoolyards and parks, used to help curb loneliness and foster friendships and kindness. If you are lonely or having a bad day, you can take a seat there. If you see someone sitting there, you know they are looking for a friend, so you can head over, strike up a conversation, invite them to play, and be their buddy.

Bullying hurts.


When: Saturday, September 24th 2016, 2:30 pm – 4 pm

Where: Dufferin Mall, 900 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON
  • Guest Speaker, Neil Pasricha – 2.30 pm 
  • Wear Your Label Fashion Show – 3.30 pm 
  • Guest Speaker, Hannah Alper – 3.45 pm 
Come out, bring your kids, and spread the happiness. And remember to be awesome every day!

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Dufferin Mall. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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