By Mike Pearson, News staff
He co-founded a movement that would soon become the world’s largest anti-bullying campaign.
But when Travis Price moved to a new high school in Cambridge, N.S., the bullying he endured since Grade 1 continued. He was the kid who started Pink Shirt Day. After years of teasing and taunting, the harsh treatment continued until a student named Ashley intervened.
“She told them to shut up,” said Price during an assembly on Monday at Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School. “They never bothered me again after that.”
Price, now 22, was victimized by bullies throughout his elementary and secondary school years. In Grade 7, two girls from his school invited him to hang out with them after class. Later, Price was surprised to see a boy along with them, but considered it an opportunity to make a new friend. As the other three students began talking to each other, Price grew uncomfortable. He started to walk away when the boy grabbed him and flung Price over his shoulder. The two girls then kicked him repeatedly in the ribs.
Price walked home and collapsed on his bedroom floor. He sustained serious injuries including a broken ankle and broken ribs.
After returning to school about four months later, a girl in Price’s math class told him, “We liked it better when you were in the hospital.”
Price tried to take his own life.
Later, it was Price’s grandfather who convinced him his life had a greater purpose.
On the second day of his Grade 9 year, Price launched Pink Shirt Day at his high school to support a boy who was bullied for wearing pink to school. Price and co-founder David Shepherd organized the event with just $25, using pink ladies tank tops.
Today Pink Shirt Day has become an international movement involving 6.4 million students in thousands of schools. Price visited Bishop Tonnos on Monday where he spoke to the entire student body about his experiences with bullying. Price was greeted by an anti-bullying club called Titans for Titans. Titans for Titans is a student-led initiative trained by the Canadian Red Cross’ Beyond the Hurt program.
Price turned to music, video games, friends and family to escape the harsh realities of bullying.
When Price was 16, one of his two closest friends, Falon Urquhart, took her own life at the age of 14.
“Because we never stood up for her, I lost my friend because of it,” said Price.
At Monday’s presentation, Price told students to take action when they witness bullying.
“Don’t be a bystander” is the message Price is delivering to schools across Canada.
During a question and answer session, a father of a bullied seven-year-old boy came forward to thank Price for his message of hope.
A Coldbrook, NS native, Price is conducting a Canada-wide tour which will include all secondary schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
Titans for Titans includes about 20 students who have received Red Cross anti-bullying training. According to statistics presented at the assembly, more than 30 per cent of Canadian students were bullied last year and six out of 10 students witnessed bullying. Forty-two percent of students were bullied online and 25 per cent of students have admitted to being a bully.
Titans for Titans’ mandate is to promote a positive social environment, create a suitable response to bullying and to establish a violence prevention team.