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Anti-bullying message being spread at Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows Schools for Pink Shirt Day

Whonnock Elementary will be inspired to be kind by Michael Bortolotto

While bullying is not just an issue for children, setting the example that the behaviour is not to be tolerated is best done while people are young.

Many local schools are participating in initiatives that promote kindness among their students for Pink Shirt Day, which is coming up on Feb. 24.

Maple Ridge Elementary’s Grade 3/4 French Immersion class created pinwheel heart cards with encouraging messages that were distributed to a local care home.

A creative poster campaign was also undertaken at Yennadon Elementary, which focused on kindness.

Grade 1 to 3 students will get to hear from inspirational speaker, Michael Bortolotto.

READ MORE: Hearts of inspiration commemorate Pink Shirt Day in Maple Ridge

Bortolotto was born with cerebral palsy, and has been a motivational speaker for 34 years.

He focuses on kindness, friendship, and being open-minded, and has inspired many during thousands of speaking engagements across North America.

Since Pink Shirt Day started, he has been a much-coveted guest at schools for his positive approach, and inspirational story of overcoming challenges.

The Whonnock classes will be treated to a Zoom presentation Bortolotto will give virtually from his home in Nanaimo.

“I always want people to succeed in their lives,” he said.

“So I speak about being a positive rebel. I encourage them to rebel. Not against society, but against their negative thoughts.”

Bartolotto explains how he was able to turn a weakness into a strength.

“One of the really awesome things is I work using my voice,’ he said. The act of speaking can be quite difficult for people with cerebral palsy, which affects muscle control all over the body.

“My speech used to be one of my detriments, and now I use it as one of my assets.”

Because he takes his time to enunciate his words, so he is understood, listeners often pay attention to what he says, Bortolotto pointed out.

“People have to focus their attention on me,” he said.

The most important part of the job is the acknowledgement he receives from his audience.

“If I can get one student to change their thoughts in the half an hour I’m speaking, then I’ve been successful.”

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