Paint the Town Pink
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
This week is Paint The Town Pink here in Barrie, and lots of our downtown Barrie neighbours have collaborated with the Simcoe County District School Board to "pink-up" their windows in support. We wanted to find out more about this initiative so we got together with Jane Dewar from the SCDSB to chat a little further.
1) When did the Paint The Town Pink program begin, who came up with it and was there a specific reason?
This is our 3rd annual PTTP! The project grew as a logical extension from the various bullying prevention initiatives taking place in our schools across the county. Bullying doesn't just happen in the school yard, and will require the efforts of the entire community to put an end to it. Though I'm very proud to have initiated this project, I'm more proud that there are many remarkable people who are spreading the PTTP events into their own communities.
2) What do you hope this program inspires in the community?
The visual impact of pink store windows and pink bows up and down the street will really grab everyone's attention! Hopefully passersby will be curious and look more closely in the window displays for information about how to celebrate diversity and prevent bullying. I hope that businesses will encourage their employees to wear pink on April 13th, and perhaps 'paint' their own establishments pink for the week! There are a number of local and regional organizations who work hard to prevent bullying that would benefit from volunteers or donations - places like The Gilbert Centre or the Barrie Native Friendship Centre.
3) How can the community participate?
A huge thanks goes out to the stores and businesses who have already connected with me and with students - we have over 120 teams of students 'painting their towns pink' next week! We really encourage the public to come downtown to see the windows. The students have added statistics about bullying, about the importance of celebrating our diversity, and the ways in which we can stop bullying. Did you know that when someone intervenes, an episode of bullying stops within 10 seconds? Our students will share this and so much with you in their designs for the windows.
The community can also attend our flag-raising (with a few talks and arts presentation) at Barrie City Hall at 4:30 on Wednesday, April 13 (which is the "International Day of Pink" day). And, of course, they can wear pink to show their support!
4) How do the students react to the event, do you notice a difference?
At first, they're just really excited to be working on something that people will see outside of their school. They're immensely proud of their windows! We get more students and teachers signing up every year. The realization that they are part of a larger team, and that they are not alone to grapple with this huge issue, is vital. Of course, we can't change the world by wearing a pink shirt. The involvement of a wider audience elevates the importance of bullying prevention and helps to send a message that it's not okay to bully someone, and that if you stand up against a bully, you will be supported. It's also important to allow a voice to adults who might be bullied at home or at work to realize that this problem exists well beyond the schoolyard, and they are not alone.
5) Why is bullying still such a huge concern, and what is your biggest piece of advice for the youth in our community?
My biggest piece of advice for youth (and adults!) is to be inclusive of all and to stand up for each other in instances of bullying.
A big thank you again to Jane for taking the time to talk with us. You can show your support by wearing pink today, and the rest of this week, and joining the conversation on social media with #PaintTheTownPink and #InternationalWearPinkDay.