Howick College support Pink Shirt Day
Pink Shirt Day is always a special event in the Howick College school calendar, and for senior dean Anna Marsick, it’s important to use the day as an activation point to plan long-term bullying prevention activities and events beyond Friday 17 May.
“Howick College has a strong commitment to preventing bullying and celebrating diversity. There has been an increasing awareness of the Pink Shirt Day movement for many years and a number of students advocated for us to support it as a whole school event,” Anna says.
“For me, the best thing about Pink Shirt Day is the joy and empowerment our students get from their own courage to stand up against bullying.”
An ongoing commitment
Celebrating Pink Shirt Day is part of an ongoing full commitment to bullying prevention at Howick College.
“It is not the starting point but rather a reflection of how we attempt to use all opportunities to live our values and make our school a safe and inclusive place for everyone. Each year we reflect and review how to make this commitment more consistent and continuous.
“Ending bullying takes more than a day, so it’s key schools plan events beyond just wearing a pink shirt. My advice to other schools is to support and empower students to lead events on the day. Let them be creative and imaginative and magic things will happen!”
Pink Shirt Day evolves
The 2018 Pink Shirt Day event at Howick College evolved into a week-long celebration of diversity which was led by the school’s LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual) group and the Pastoral Council.
“The rainbow flag was flown from the school’s flag pole for the week and the LGBTQIA+ group gave a presentation at our staff meeting about their own identities and experiences and how this had affected them at school. They were supported by the guidance counselling staff throughout this process.
“On Pink Shirt Day we held a whole-school mufti day, with many students designing and hand-printing their own pink t-shirts. Rainbow balloons were tied to the front of the school and we held a bake sale at lunchtime,” Anna says.
As well as celebrating gender and sexuality diversity, Howick College has a number of student-led events to support acceptance and belonging of different cultures and ethnicities.
“By celebrating the different foods we eat, languages we speak and beliefs we hold, we can better understand and accept one another so bullying can’t thrive.”
The Big Stand
As well as Pink Shirt Day, Howick College has their own bullying prevention programme called The Big Stand.
“The Big Stand campaigns against peer pressure and bullying. Fun and inspirational activities encourage students to take personal responsibility for themselves, to work together to create an environment that we all want to be a part of, and not to tolerate bullying behaviours in our school.
“Through this programme we have also implemented a reporting system to help students speak up about bullying in a safe way.”