South Okanagan  

Summerland Bully Free gathering

A downtown Summerland block was transformed into a bully free zone for a brief time Friday morning.

Students, middle-aged people, the elderly and dignitaries clad in pink filled the street for a community gathering organized by Summerland Bully Free.

The action, ranging from student marches to everyone shouting 'Summerland Is Bully Free' in unison,  was filmed and will be made into a You Tube video.

“Our most important message is that we as a community on all levels need to commit to being proactive in preventing bullying,” said organizer Tina Martin. “Our feeling is a You Tube video will bring awareness to more people.”

The filming was expected to continue at the Summerland Steam hockey game Friday night. With admission people get bully free T-shirts. Players were also expected to wear pink on their jerseys.

The video of the rally on Main Street, which lasted about an hour, will be unveiled on Feb. 25 at City Hall.

Martin came up with the idea of Summerland Bully Free last fall. A committee was soon formed, comprised of representatives from the RCMP, city and school district.

A website has since been created as well as a Facebook page,

Friday’s rally was the first big event and Martin anticipated a turnout of around 1,200 people.

Excited students marched in from Summerland Secondary School and Giant’s Head Elementary, where they were joined by community members.

“I have a younger sister who went through major bullying that was really bad,” said Howie Johnson, who was there with his 4-year-old daughter. “So it’s nice to see people of all ages  making a change in any way they can.”

High school student Amber-Lee Watson was happy to do her part.

“I believe it is important, because who wants to live in a town, where there is bullying and negative things going on," she said.

The effort is just the beginning of a month filled with anti-bullying activities. In addition to the unveiling on Feb. 25, the movie “Bully” will be shown at Centre Stage Theatre on Feb. 26.

Those involved with the effort will celebrate Pink Shirt Day on Feb. 27.

“How we treat our citizens from the smallest to the elderly has to be our priority,” said Mayor Janice Perrino, who stood surrounded by elementary school children. “Everyone has to feel bully free.”

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