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June 26, 2014
Toronto students complete program that addresses bullying
Grade 5 students at two Toronto schools recently completed a program called Speaking Out Against Bullying, a partnership program of the City of Toronto, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and the Kill It With Kindness organization. The program engages children in creative, community-building activities while learning more about bullying.

Groups of Grade 5 students from Chester Elementary School and William Burgess Elementary School took part in Speaking Out Against Bullying earlier this year.

"Bullying has absolutely no place in our communities and neighbourhoods," said Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. "This excellent program has helped students understand the effects of bullying and learn tactics for bullying prevention."

"Not only did these students learn about bullying, they were also able to develop new skills and reflect on their identity while building self-esteem and self-confidence," said Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37 Scarborough Centre), Chair of the City's Economic Development Committee.

"In addition to building and reinforcing more positive self-images, the program also helped these students to have a deeper empathy and insight into the lives of others by showing them points of differences and commonalities," said Councillor Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29 Toronto-Danforth).

The students also worked with professional artist Lishai Peel to create spoken-word poetry with anti-bullying messages. Their work was brought together in a book and e-book, featuring their spoken-word pieces along with a final celebration that allowed them to perform their works. Each school was also presented with a Friendship Bench.

“Projects such as this are so important because they illustrate the culture of kindness and relationship-building that is key to the TDSB’s vision of ensuring that all of our learning spaces are caring, inclusive, and safe,” said Cathy Dandy for Trustee Ward 15 Toronto-Danforth.

"Words can be powerful things," said Sean Hume, Principal of Chester Elementary School.
"This project helped reinforce for students that when used well, words can lift someone up and when used poorly can tear them down. I was very impressed with how the teaching staff and the visiting artist from the city worked together so effectively to show students the difference and empower them to use words constructively. This was student voice at its very best."

Created by the Kill It With Kindness organization, the Friendship Bench acts as a tool to confront bullying and represents a safe zone for children and teens who don't necessarily have the voice to speak up about someone bullying them. A child who sits on the bench is showing teachers, staff, volunteers and even other children and teens that he or she is need of assistance.

More information about the program and excerpts from the book are available at

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities. Toronto is proud to be the Host City for the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us @TorontoComms.

Media Contact
Shane Gerard
Strategic Communications

Sean Hume
Chester Elementary School



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