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Pink shirts legend grows

Susan Notes:

Two articles here. In the first, one of the leaders in this anti-bullying campaign reflected, "Itâs my last year. Iâve stood around too long and I wanted to do something," said David.

It seems especially remarkable that high school seniors would do this for a freshman.

Let us hope some adults learn from his wisdom, applying it to their own lives. In the face of evil, don't stand around and do nothing.

by Ian Fairclough

âIâve stood around too longâ

CAMBRIDGE â Two students at Central Kings Rural High School fought back against bullying recently, unleashing a sea of pink after a new student was harassed and threatened when he showed up wearing a pink shirt.

The Grade 9 student arrived for the first day of school last Wednesday and was set upon by a group of six to 10 older students who mocked him, called him a homosexual for wearing pink and threatened to beat him up.

The next day, Grade 12 students David Shepherd and Travis Price decided something had to be done about bullying.

RELATED: Pink shirts legend grows

"Itâs my last year. Iâve stood around too long and I wanted to do something," said David.

They used the Internet to encourage people to wear pink and bought 75 pink tank tops for male students to wear. They handed out the shirts in the lobby before class last Friday â even the bullied student had one.

"I made sure there was a shirt for him," David said.

They also brought a pink basketball to school as well as pink material for headbands and arm bands. David and Travis figure about half the schoolâs 830 students wore pink.

It was hard to miss the mass of students in pink milling about in the lobby, especially for the group that had harassed the new Grade 9 student.

"The bullies got angry," said Travis. "One guy was throwing chairs (in the cafeteria). Weâre glad we got the response we wanted."

David said one of the bullies angrily asked him whether he knew pink on a male was a symbol of homosexuality.

He told the bully that didnât matter to him and shouldnât to anyone.

"Something like the colour of your shirt or pants, thatâs ridiculous," he said.

"Our intention was to stand up for this kid so he doesnât get picked on."

Travis said the bullies "keep giving us dirty looks, but we know we have the support of the whole student body.

"Kids donât need this in their lives, worrying about what to wear to school. That should be the last thing on their minds."

When the bullied student put on his pink shirt Friday and saw all the other pink in the lobby, "he was all smiles. It was like a big weight had been lifted off is shoulder," David said. No one at the school would reveal the studentâs name.

Travis said that growing up, he was often picked on for wearing store-brand clothes instead of designer duds.

The two friends said they didnât take the action looking for publicity, but rather to show leadership in combating what they say is frequent bullying in schools.

Pink shirts legend grows

By Ian Fairclough

CAMBRIDGE STATION â The story of two Nova Scotia boys who got more than 400 schoolmates to wear pink to support a bullied younger student has swept across North America and made its way to Europe.

Travis Price and David Shepherd, Grade 12 boys who organized a drive to back a new Grade 9 student who was harassed for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school last week, have been deluged with e-mails and interview requests from near and far.

Their story was first published Thursday, and now the tale has reached well beyond the confines of their school, Central Kings Rural High.

CBS in New York came calling Friday, and the largest daily newspaper in Spain is picking up the story.

"Iâve talked more in the past couple of days than I have in my whole life," Travis said.

Accolades continue to pour in. The story has hit Internet blogs and discussion groups across the continent and e-mails have come in from many parts of the U.S. as well as from Bermuda, Norway and Switzerland.

While Travis and David appreciate the recognition, "we donât want to move the focus from the situation onto us," said David, who is leaning toward joining the RCMP after high school.

"People say, âYouâre celebrities, youâll go down in the history books of the school,â but thatâs not what we set out to do."

"People say youâre famous, heroes or celebrities," added Travis, who plans to take criminology next year. "Weâre not, weâre just two kids who stood up for a cause."

He and David say they are responding to every e-mail they get. By Friday morning, theyâd received 30 e-mails from around the world, and more had landed at The Chronicle Herald, asking that the messages of congratulation be passed along to the boys.

Theyâve already been on two local TV stations, CBC and Annapolis Valley radio stations and a Montreal talk-radio station and have had an interview request from a station in Ontario.

Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison contacted them on Facebook and Premier Rodney MacDonald faxed a letter to the school.

People are joking that theyâll be on Oprah next.

"Weâre not allowed to go on Oprah unless we take our mothers," David said, laughing.

Because of the boyâs efforts, half of the schoolâs 830 students wore pink on a day of support for the bullied boy, whose name has not been released for privacy reasons.

Since then, "the response of the school community has just been enormous," Travis said. "It makes me feel like weâve done a really good thing."

He and David, having been bullied themselves in the past, decided it was time someone stood up against bullying after six to 10 older kids harassed the younger boy last week for his choice of shirt colour.

E-mails sent to the Grade 12 duo directly or through the school have congratulated them, and some have related personal stories of bullying, Travis said.

Some e-mails to The Chronicle Herald were one-line responses, simply saying "awesome" or "very cool" or one of a host of other descriptions of the boys and their actions.

Nancy and Bill Curtis of Pennsylvania, who found the article on a website, wrote: "Kudos to you for this article . . . and (to) the kids!! Please tell them that I applaud them for what they did and the way they carried it out. Maturity and action together â what a combination!!"

Travis and David are writing a proposal to the Annapolis Valley regional school board for an elementary school program that would "talk about bullying and all the pain it can cause," David said.

School principal Stephen Pearl, whom the boys are jokingly calling their agent because he has been handling so many interview requests and e-mails for them, said the basic message of all the calls and e-mails is "could you please pass along congratulations to the boys for standing up."

"Others say itâs great to see a school where people stand up for each other," Mr. Pearl said.

He said student councils from other schools in the province have been calling to get information to hold their own pink day.

— Ian Fairclough
Chronicle Herald Canada


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