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École River Heights School celebrated leadership and positive behavior while serving as an official host site for the Shaw Respect Camp on Oct. 24.
The youth leadership program is the result of a partnership between Shaw, the Canadian Red Cross and the Canadian Football League.
On hand for the event was Winnipeg Blue Bomber star running back Andrew Harris, TSN reporter Sara Orlesky, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie and Rebecca Ulrich of the Canadian Red Cross.
Mr. Harris said respect, and treating each other how you want to be treated, goes a long way to creating a positive community.
"The main part of healthy relationships is respect. That's honesty, being trustworthy, feeling safe. For me, I have 60 guys in my locker room, and for us to go work together, I have to trust those guys."
When it comes to leadership, Mr. Harris said recognizing and respecting the uniqueness in others was important.
"Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Part of being a leader is bringing out the best in each other. Lift that person up who has a weakness in one area. Highlight the strengths they have," Mr. Harris said.
"Find your strengths, and highlight everyone else's, and you guys will become leaders in your own way."
Students and Red Cross ambassadors Olivia Bjornson and Owen Sired joined a panel discussion on stage with the afternoon's guests.
Olivia talked about a positive behavior campaign at River Heights where students put Post-It notes on each other's lockers to share compliments and encouraging messages.
"It felt great putting a happy Post-It note on someone else's locker," Olivia said.
When the panel discussion turned to the topic of cyberbullying, Owen said there many actions one could take instead of being a bystander to bullying.
"You could go to the person who is being cyberbullied and tell them 'I am with you and I don't believe what the cyberbully is saying," Owen said. "You could also tell the bully to stop it…and if they don't listen to you, you could even tell your parents."
Following the panel discussion, students signed a pledge banner that will remain at the school. It stated: "Today I have an obligation. No longer will I be silent if you need help. Silence is participation. I refuse to participate in the problem. We are all different, but we all deserve respect. If you need help, come to me. If I think you need help, I'm getting involved."
River Heights Guidance Counsellor Patti Craven said 10-15 students will attend the Red Cross's Beyond the Hurt training program later this school year.
"We will be selecting a group of youth ambassadors who will get the training and then bring that back to our school," she said.
With bullying moving to realms such as social media—which may not be as visible to parents and adults—it's important to continue having conversations about the impact.
"Bullying is not always as visible as what it used to be…but it's still happening online or it can be more subtle," Ms. Craven said. "As adults we don't always see it."