More than 75 residents, many of them sporting pink anti-bullying shirts, gathered in Parksville’s Community Park Sunday, Feb. 25, to show they have a heart.
And to create one.
Works of HeArt, an anti-bullying initiative started by local artisan Micki Findlay, debuted with a gathering of people, ranging from seniors to young children, who assembled in the shape of a heart as photographers and videographers on the slope above captured images of the event.
“I’ve met so many people who have been bullied in the past, myself included,” said Findlay. “And I thought, you know, I need to do something about it instead of just complaining.”
The human heart event was held just days before the annual Pink Shirt Day campaign (Feb. 28), but Findlay envisions a year-round effort to promote awareness, cheer random acts of kindness and recognize heroes.
The event was held in partnership with Oceanside RCMP and Oceanside Community Safety Volunteers. Const. Danielle Swanson and Const. Mike Dally, youth liaison officers with the local detachment, were joined by Staff Sgt. Marc Pelletier, who wore red serge at the point of the heart.
Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre also took part, providing a welcoming address before joining participants in creating the outline of a heart on the large park field.
“Too many people have suffered in silence and people should know they’ve got people to contact and places to go if they need help,” Lefebvre told the gathering.
Swanson and Dally said Findlay’s initiative and message dovetails perfectly with their own focus on combatting bullying in local schools.
“It’s very symbiotic,” said Dally. “I think it’s an excellent tie-in to what we do as youth members. (Findlay’s) mandate is to help the vulnerable people who are at risk, and we are given the opportunity to do that in schools. And bullying’s a huge thing in schools.
“Any message we can get out in the community to strengthen resolve to stand up for and fight against bullying has got to be good.”
Swanson urged youngsters in the crowd to be “upstanders” instead of bystanders when they see incidents of another person being bullied.
“If you see something happen you’re going to stand up for the person and tell an adult right away,” Swanson told them.
Findlay is looking forward to sharing and spreading the Works of HeArt message.
“We’re going to create a film that will hopefully inspire communities worldwide to do this very thing,” she said. “To find creative ways to speak out against racism, against bullying and promote kindness and inclusion.”