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Pink Day at LeRoy promotes love, acceptance

It was like stepping into a bottle of Pepto Bismal.LeRoy School was absolutely dripping in pink on April 4, when about 440 students from eight schools took part in a massive Anti-Bullying Pink Day at the school.
Students from LeRoy School, all in pink, celebrate at the close of the Anti-Bullying Pink Day they helped organize for students from seven other area schools on April 4.

It was like stepping into a bottle of Pepto Bismal.LeRoy School was absolutely dripping in pink on April 4, when about 440 students from eight schools took part in a massive Anti-Bullying Pink Day at the school. The walls and ceilings, and even doors, were draped in pink paper and decorations, as well as with messages about bullying and its effects. Inside the gym, there were students, staff, and community members from LeRoy, Muenster, Quill Lake, Lake Lenore, St. Brieux, Watson, Drake and Englefeld dressed in pink for the day-long event promoting tolerance and understanding at school.The day included speeches from Saskatchewan Roughrider Luc Mullinder and motivational speaker Houston Kraft, as well as team building activities like a dance-off. "This day will be filled with empowerment, excitement and change towards ending all types of bullying," stated a press release sent out by the school. Kraft, who travelled all the way from Seattle for the day's event, took to the stage in the gym to speak after a lunchtime dance-off. He spoke about fear, and how to harness that emotion, and to choose love over fear. "We all live with some kind of fear in our lives every day," he said, whether it's of the unknown, of rejection, or that we're not good enough. "And that's okay. The world is a scary place."The scariest thing of all for him, he told the kids, amidst stories and anecdotes both funny and serious, is that it's possible to live your life in fear."Fear makes us do dumb things sometimes," he said."My biggest fear is what other people are going to think of me. That almost lost me my life," he said, and told the story of how he was nearly killed in a car crash because he didn't tell his friend, who was driving, to stop speeding.He spoke about his own experience with bullying in school - how he was bullied in Grade 6, and then took out the pain he felt from that on a girl in his class, by bullying her."I felt, if I could pass (that pain) onto others, it would go away," he said. "I had so much fear in my life, I felt I had the right to give some to her."Later, he found out the girl he picked on came from an abusive home."The world is kind of a scary place, and fear makes us do dumb things sometimes. Because fear is power. It's mesmerizing. It's terrifying. It makes us do things we don't want to do. Sometimes, we forget that fear is just a feeling. And feelings change."You have to ask yourself what you stand for, he told the students. Because "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything," he stated."I stand for kindness, for people, for love, for no bullying," he said. "My life, I believe, is for love.... Love as a verb, love as a choice.... I believe everyone wants a lot less fear and a lot more love."He asked the students to imagine a school "where people forgive each other for just one day, and give each other permission to be kind, to care... Imagine a school where that's okay, where a culture of kindness is supported.... Imagine a school where we treat people based on their humanity - that they are people and need love..."Imagine a school, he said, where they stand up to bullies, where those who try to bully are told "that's not how we do it here."Imagine a school, he asked, where when you see someone being bullied, you report it, and help stop it."If we choose to, we can fill other people's lives with love," he said. "It's possible to live your life in fear, but if we are going to beat bullying... we have to live for love... Fear is a feeling. Love is a choice. We can choose how we act, how we treat each other.... The world is a scary place," he concluded, "but we can choose to fill it with love. I'm ready. Are you?"Kraft's speech hit home with a great many of the students - so much so that they were still talking about it the next day at school, reported Danielle Bilodeau, a teacher at LeRoy School and one of the coordinators of Pink Day. "From everyone I've talked to, what he had to say, had the impact we wanted. We don't want kids to forget," she said. As a whole, Pink Day "was a very, very good day," Bilodeau noted. "Well organized, and the speakers were great."The facility was draped in pink decorations - "The kids went a little overboard," she laughed - but it got the reaction they were looking for from students. "We wanted the kids to go 'whoa' when they walked in," she said. And they did.The rest of the day also went as hoped for."The kids absolutely loved it," Bilodeau said of the high-energy day. "We accomplished our goals and then some."The goal of the day was to educate kids about bullying, in order to help prevent it, and to provide them with a high-energy day where they feel safe and secure at school.This Pink Day was part of a national Pink Shirt Day put on by the Red Cross, but it was organized by LeRoy School completely."We started it, and it snowballed from there," Bilodeau said. "We had huge support from the community."