Be Kind Online: Third Annual I Am Stronger Rally
Third Annual I Am Stronger rally delivers a positive message to students at Greenall High School
Students packed the Greenall High School gym in Balgonie for the third annual I Am Stronger (IAS) Rally on November 14, in honour of National Bullying Awareness Week.
With a special focus on cyberbullying, the rally’s guest speaker Katia Hildebrandt, PhD candidate and instructor at the University of Regina, delivered a presentation to over 650 Grades 9-12 students.
Although the gym was filled with excited students and over-sized beachballs bouncing through the crowd, her message was clear: Be kind online.
“Technology can be a lot of different things. It can be harmful and make your life awful, but it can also change the world in really amazing ways,” Katia said.
After students took their seats the room fell quiet and she began her presentation by asking: “Who here has been affected by bullying?”
Most people in the packed gym, both students and teachers – some sheepishly – raised their hand.
That wasn’t a total shock, Katia said, considering 75 per cent of Canadians admit they’ve been affected by bullying online or in person.
The numbers indicate bullying is a prevalent problem in society and Katia encourages students to be “upstanders” if they witness a related situation.
“By acknowledging what’s happening is wrong and acting in a responsible way to make things right, anyone can be an upstander,” she said.
For Jessica Schneider, a Grade 10 student who attends the school, standing up to bullying is important.
She saw it first-hand when it happened to a friend; however, Jessica said she learned by offering kind words instead of hurtful comments online youth can help prevent similar situations.
“The best thing you can do is report bullying, be there for the person being affected by it and never let it get the best of you,” Jessica said. “Bullying back is not the answer, because I’ve learned that a bully is commonly going through something too, so it’s better to be a friend and be there for them.”
Collectively, students like Jessica came together last year to promote kindness to others and the environment after receiving an I Am Stronger grant for their outdoor school (ODS) program.
“SaskTel recognized the leadership that students of Greenall have shown is nothing short of inspiring, which made them an ideal rally host and grant recipient,” said Lyndsey Pankratz, I Am Stronger Project Manager.
Through youth-led kindness initiatives and education about cyber safety, as demonstrated by schools like Greenall, SaskTel’s I Am Stronger initiative is committed to help reduce the activities of bullying and cyberbullying.
If you or someone you know is being bullied, the anonymous and confidential Student Online Reporting Tool can be found on the Be Kind Online website.