R.I. Baker students learn to make a difference

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Student Kylie Bryan poses for a photo wth Travis Price following his presentation, which was sponsored by the Canadian Red Cross “RespectED” program.

COALDALE – He helped launch an internationally recognized anti-bullying campaign. He’s rubbed shoulders with Ellen DeGeneres and Selena Gomez, and has spoken in front of WE Day crowds of more than 25,000.

Yet Travis Price was able to convince a gym full of R.I. Baker Middle School students they’re really no different than he was back in Grade 9, almost a decade ago, when he helped convince Nova Scotia schoolmates to dress in pink in support of a bullied student.

“I hope that they realize they can be a hero,” Price said. “They can step up for people. Stand up for people. They can help and it’s simple, easy things.”

He learned first-hand that words hurt more than the regular beatings he took throughout his school years. Yet just a few words of intervention, Price told the students, can be enough to stop a bully.

“It’s pretty amazing how one person can make such a big difference,” said Grade 8 student Kylie Bryan, following the presentation.

While Price provided her with further inspiration, the 14-year-old said she’s stood up to bullies in the past and will continue to do so.

“Some people might think it would be embarrassing, but it’s really not because you feel good about what you’ve done,” said Bryan, who was thrilled to get her photo taken with Price.

Fellow Grade 8 student Spencer Stanko said the presentation, which was sponsored by the Canadian Red Cross “RespectED” program, provided him with further thought on how to deal with bullies.

“What I learned was not to be afraid of bullies and to stand up for whoever, no matter what circumstances,” said the 13-year-old.

Price told the students about his experiences being bullied, some of the ways he tried to cope, and the circumstances that led to that very first Pink Shirt Day. He also told them if they are bullied, they need to ask for help.

Last year Price delivered 72 anti-bullying presentations and he’ll hit the century mark this year. Almost a decade after that first Pink Shirt Day, he figures he’s spoken to well over 250,000 students in more than a thousand schools across the country, and beyond.

Not for a second did he and his buddy David Shepherd think their efforts that day would lead to something so big.

“The way I look at it now is the same as that day. I want to go into a school and I want to help one kid. Reach out to one kid that comes up and tells me their story and says they’ll get help, that’s still my goal,” said Price.

Principal Jason Prebushewski told students it would be naïve of him to think one presentation would mean the end of bullying at the school.

“But my hope is we have a lot more heroes who stand up, and eventually squeeze those bullies out,” he said, before revealing a new initiative at R.I. Baker Middle School.

The goal of the group, tentatively called the “Diversity Club,” is to support every student and make a positive difference within the school and the larger community. The idea was born out of a Palliser-wide student leadership conference, when students brainstormed ways to make the school a better place.

Prebushewski said a pancake breakfast is in the works to raise funds in support of RespectED and specifically, the “Beyond the Hurt” program, which trains students to help other students prevent bullying.

For more information, go to www.redcross.ca/RespectED