Firefighters from Richmond Fire-Rescue will be on a mission of a different kind this Wednesday.
Rather than racing to put out fires or extract people from the wrecks of cars, firefighters from all over the city will be visiting elementary schools with their anti-bullying message on Pink Shirt Day.
During the day — a nationwide event to raise public awareness about bullying and promote prevention — fire crews will read specially selected short stories to the students.
And they’ll all be kitted out in gloriously pink t-shirts to mark the day and do their bit to douse bullying behaviour.
“The guys are very much looking forward to going out there and speaking to the kids,” said Richmond’s fire chief John McGowan.
Chief McGowan also recalled his own up close and personal experience with bullying.
“My son was being bullied at elementary school about 13 years ago and I remember the effect it had on him and everyone in the family,” he said.
“Rather than being confrontational, we had to meet with the school and partner with everyone to figure out a solution, even meeting with the parents of the boy that was carrying out the bullying.
“It’s a difficult situation for everyone and it wasn’t easy. But I would recommend that approach as opposed to being aggressive.”
The firefighters will join Richmondites and Canadians across the country in an effort to stand up against bullying on Feb. 27.
Youth coordinators at several Richmond community centres are working with high school students to plan activities to raise awareness of the important role youth play in reducing bullying.
Pink t-shirts are available for sale to the public for $10 at Hamilton, West Richmond, South Arm and Cambie Community Centres. Proceeds go to Variety – the Children’s Charity.
Pink Shirt Day originated when two Nova Scotia high school students gave pink shirts to the boys in their school after discovering that a new student at their school had been bullied for wearing a pink shirt. For more information on Pink Shirt Day and ways you can be involved, visit www.pinkshirtday.ca.