One week it was a pink food challenge, another it was finding a pink-coloured character — this week it’s covering your window with pink messages against bullying.
The Steveston Youth Council along with youth development coordinator Isabel Wong have found it challenging this year to engage the community in pink shirt — Erase Bullying — activities since the number of people going through Steveston Community Centre is greatly reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a normal year, people would drop by the community centre and do activities and it would be a chance to engage with them around the message of anti-bullying, Wong said.
Having several activities over a month has been one way the youth council at Steveston Community Centre have been trying to raise awareness, Wong said.
They are hoping people will decorate their windows to spread the “Erase Bullying” message.
“It’s important to be mindful of being kind but Erase Bullying Day also gives that additional step to being kind... standing up and saying something and speaking out when you see bullying happening rather than being a bystander,” Wong said.
Much of the centre’s work with youth has shifted virtually, be it programming, meetings or just casual interactions, Wong said.
“We build a lot of our connections with youth who just stop by the centre and, given that we’re not open, that’s the biggest barrier to connecting with them,” Wong said. (The centre is open for pre-registered programs, Wong clarified.)
Bullying less obvious
Bullying seems to be less overt than it was portrayed a decade ago, Wong said, and it seems to have taken on a new, more challenging layer, with digital messages between youth.
The anti-bullying message is about being kind and considerate, Wong said, but she added combatting bullying might just mean watching to see if someone is getting uncomfortable in a situation and not standing by idly, but distracting or cutting in.
Wong said she hopes next year when it’s time to raise awareness about bullying, there will be more open conversations and dialogue.
While so many programs are scaled down – and with other big changes in their lives - Wong said youth have remained resilient in the face of these new challenges.
“We’re asking them to handle it the same way adults do and it’s really, really challenging for them,” Wong said.
Youth are being asked to be patient with a whole new way of learning and socializing, with many lost opportunities, for example, missing out on grad ceremonies.
But, she said, they are rising to the challenge and making the best of it.
“The youth I talk to are always so positive,” Wong added.
To take part in this final Erase Bullying event, residents and businesses can submit a photo of their decorated window by 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 23 by email email@example.com for a chance to win a gift card.