MOUNT UNIACKE, N.S. - With music blaring, students dabbing and teachers smiling, there was a definite positive energy in the air at the Uniacke District School on Nov. 1.
Myles Erlick and Alexandra Chaves, stars of the Family Channel television show The Next Step, showed off some dance moves and talked about bullying, as part of the 15th annual Stand Up! Campaign.
Madeline Neary, 11, entered a contest to bring the campaign to her school and said she was thrilled to see the cast members of one of her favourite shows.
“It was really crazy, like I didn’t even know I was going to win,” said the Grade 6 student.
When she entered into the contest, Neary explained what her school does to address the issue of bullying, mentioning that they wear pink to raise awareness and will have assemblies on the topic.
“Schools have lots of bullying, that happens, and I find our school does have some, but not as much as others,” she said. “We really try here to have it not happen here.”
One of the things that Neary said she took from the presentation was the idea that you can always tell an adult when you witness or are a part of bullying.
Madeline’s mother, Tanya Neary, said she was surprised when she found out her daughter won.
“One kid can make a difference,” she said. “It just shows that, and it’s the same with bullying, if you stand up to it, you can make a difference.”
Joy King, vice-principal at Uniacke District School, said the administration takes bullying seriously, even as the issue becomes more complex with social media becoming a larger factor.
“We work really closely with the RCMP… and the message is brought forward throughout the whole year,” King said. “It’s a huge part of what we represent. It can be a challenge because before you’d leave school and the bullying stopped, but now when you go home it’s everywhere.”
King also said she was happy to have an event that could bring the whole school, which ranges from Primary to Grade 9, together.
“It’s often hard to find something that really reaches everybody,” she said. “Everybody here was so involved and so excited that it was happening. I had tears in my eyes because the kids were so excited.”
Stand Up! shirts and books were distributed to the school’s 405 students.
The day was filmed by a film production company and portions are expected to air at a later date, along with two other events at schools across Canada.