A Langley graphic designer partnered with a Grade 5 class from R.C. Garnett Demonstration School to create an anti-bullying T-shirt for Pink Shirt Day. (Special to the Langley Advance)

Langley students help design anti-bullying message for shirts

R.C. Garnett class assists graphic designer in creating Pink Shirt Day logo.

A class of Grade 5 students have blended their artistic skills together with a desire to quash cyberbullying in their school, and created a special pink T-shirt fundraising and awareness building project.

Twenty-eight students in Nancy Cameron’s class at R.C. Garnett demonstration school joined forces with a graphic designer and the RCMP youth unit to create and market their own distinct pink shirts ahead of Pink Shirt Day on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

The idea was that of Nate Berkheimer, a graphic artist with The Creative Ride, who wanted to have kids help design a themed shirts, explained class parent Julie Bion.

“Nate (her son Johnny’s BMX coach) came into the classroom and had all the kids sketch ideas, then they all worked together to compile images and words that represented cyberbullying,” Bion explained.

Berkheimer subsequently finalized a logo for pink shirts that were pre-sold around the school with the help of the RCMP youth unit.

Selling at $20 each, the T-shirt sales saw $10 from each shirt going back to the school. That’s translated to a profit of $660 for the elementary already, with more money being raised through the sale Wednesday of large buttons boasting the same design.

“It was so amazing to watch the kids collaborate, and then when they saw the final product they were all so proud,” Bion said.

“[Nate] also signed their school name and division at the bottom of the finished shirt making it even more special,” she added.

“It carries so much meaning to have the kids contribute to a cause that is sadly so prevalent in our society.”

The shirts design will officially be unveiled during a diversity week assembly at the school on Wednesday morning.

In the meantime, Bion hopes the kids can design something for the entire district next year, for diversity week.

Pink Shirt Day, otherwise known as an Anti-bullying Day, sees people wear pink to symbolize a stand against bullying. The idea originated in Canada, but has since spread to various dates around the globe.

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Berkheimer subsequently commented on the experience:

“I did a project through the local BMX community for Pink Shirt Day last year. The design was cool and the kids loved it, but I just didn’t feel like it had much impact.

“I knew I wanted to do something different this time around. After a little brainstorm on the topic of cyber bullying, I felt that it was necessary to have a school age mind help me with this year’s design.

“Julie has always been one to help kids in need, so it was only fair that she had a hand in the project. Her son Johnny is one of the coolest, most authentic kids I know. Initially I wanted to work with Johnny on the design.

“Julie asked if I would be willing to share the project with Johnny’s entire class. Through BMX, I have worked with kids of all ages and do well with groups, I was in.

“I saw the opportunity to not only get more insight for the design, but also share a bit of what I do with a group of kids that would genuinely appreciate it. The creative process can often be difficult to teach, but through an interactive experience, kids tend to reach deeper into themselves and generate ideas they didn’t know were in there.

“Mrs. Cameron let me take over the class for an hour or so and put my plans to work. We discussed cyber bullying a bit. It’s causes and effects, ways to identify it and ways to rise above it. Each student was given a drawing template in the shape of a T-shirt and the pencils started moving.

“The kids who drew often got right to work with their ideas. The ones who said they “can’t draw” were the ones I wanted to help first. It’s easy to use the imagination to think of things, but some have difficulties channeling those visions and allowing the hand to draw what the mind creates. It was cool to see some of things they put together with a little bit of creative guidance.

“Once everyone had something drawn on the t-shirt template we put them all up on the whiteboard at the front of the class for review. The students wrote down which were their favorite and for different reasons. Some had good images, some had good use of words, they all had something to pull ideas from.

“The final design came from a rough sketch on the white board that a few students re-drew. I took several words and phrases from their art as well as some of the graphics used. The art that we ended up with has a powerful message that the class can be proud of.

“As for what’s next … this is just the beginning. I keep busy with my design company, but with two children under five of my own, my work with the youth has just begun. Through riding bikes, I have been fortunate to achieve things that I never imagined possible. Sharing experiences that inspire kids to be 100 per cent who they want to be is what’s in store.”

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